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Direct Provision centre in Limerick shuts over 'health and safety fears'

The management contract was “terminated” by a division of the Department of Justice today.

Westbourne Holiday Hostels in Limerick.
Westbourne Holiday Hostels in Limerick.

A DIRECT PROVISION centre run by a company whose loans were sold by NAMA to a subsidiary of a so-called ‘vulture’ fund involved in serving eviction orders, has closed down after claims management failed to ensure the health and safety of residents.

The management contract was “terminated” by a division of the Department of Justice today. The Department stated the measure was taken after requests that health and safety standards be met were ignored.

The centre’s 64 residents are to be moved to other accommodation centres, however the future remains uncertain for the centre’s 12 employees.

A statement released by Department of Justice said: “The Reception & Integration Agency (RIA) has invoked the termination clause of the contract with Westbourne Holiday Hostel Ltd at Westbourne Accommodation Centre, Dock Road, Limerick.

“Despite repeated requests to the contractor from last autumn, a schedule of works to address essential maintenance and to ensure the health and safety of those resident in the centre has not been forthcoming.

Fears

“In these circumstances, the department has no option but to terminate the contract with Westbourne Holiday Hostel Ltd. The contract will terminate on 27 January 2017.”
Westbourne is owned by Kenny Commercial Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Kenny Investment Holdings which entered NAMA as a going concern on 16 December , 2010.

According to financial statements for Westbourne, for the period ended 31 December 2014, it’s noted the firm reported a loss of €1.37million in the year to the end of March 2014.
Westbourne’s borrowings were taken on last July by OCM EmRu Debtco DAC, a subsidiary of Oaktree Capital Management Limited.

Oaktree is also involved in selling upmarket apartments in Limerick owned by Sova Properties Ltd, a subsidiary of Lalco Holdings , which entered NAMA in 2010 having net liabilities of €64 million and bank loans of €117 million. These borrowings were also sold to OCM EmRu Debtco DAC, according to information obtained by Limerick AAA councillor Cian Prendiville.

On 13 January last, Sova stated it was withdrawing eviction letters it had delivered to tenants at the Limerick Strand Apartment Complex. While the company is still seeking to sell the apartments on behalf of Oaktree, it stated its “commitment to respecting the spirit and the letter of the upcoming Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016″.

Councillor Prendiville described the closure of the Westbourne Holiday Hostel as “threatening the livelihoods of 12 staff” and resulting in the “mass eviction” of more than 60 residents.

“Loans associated with Westbourne Holiday Hostel had previously been transferred to NAMA but were sold to Oaktree in the same huge portfolio sales last July that also included the loans on the Strand Apartments,” Prendiville explained.

“It’s now up to the government to pick up the phone and call their vulture friends like they did after tenants refused to accept their mass eviction from the Strand Apartments. Oaktree is a co-investor with NAMA with a massive €450m development scheme in Dublin Docklands and so is clearly susceptible to political pressure,” Prendiville said.

Read: Operation Transformation diary: ‘I usually panic when I’m following a food plan and try to avoid eating out’ >

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David Raleigh

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