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Dublin: 10 °C Monday 22 September, 2014

Displaced Priory Hall residents unable to secure meeting with Taoiseach

The owners of the ill-fated properties protested outside the Dáil this morning.

Georgina English and Michelle Hogan.
Georgina English and Michelle Hogan.
Image: Sasko Lazaroz/Photocall Ireland

ABOUT 20 RESIDENTS from the Priory Hall complex gathered outside Leinster House this morning in attempts to gain the Taoiseach’s attention, spokesman Graham Usher has told TheJournal.ie.

The protest was organised to call on the Government to take some responsibility for the situation the homeowners have found themselves in since they were evacuated from their homes last October.

However, neither the Taoiseach Enda Kenny nor Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan have agreed to meet with them yet.

“We are still pushing for talks,” said Usher. “We want to get a solution on the road now rather than wait until we have to default on our mortgage. However, the Government seems happy to stand back, do nothing and let people go bankrupt.”

Currently, Dublin City Council is paying for the residents’ temporary accommodation in houses and apartments across the northside of Dublin. But on 24 April, the council will go to the Supreme Court to rid itself of that responsibility.

DCC has brought the appeal as it has been paying accommodation costs for Priory Hall residents for five months at a cost of over €700,000. It says it cannot afford to continue the arrangement for the 256 residents living in hotels and NAMA properties.

Usher and other residents have been told by lawyers to “expect the worst” from that hearing and they will then have to start paying for their own alternative accommodation.

The Donaghmede complex in which they own apartments is still unsafe to live in due to fire concerns that have not been dealt with by either the developer Tom McFeely or the council.

The residents were evacuated from the buildings in October last year. Remedial work was due to be carried out by McFeely but he was ordered off the site after failing to do so.

He is in court this Friday as the council attempts to overturn a stay he obtained on a €1 million fine and 3-month jail sentence.

New insolvency legislation

Usher says that if families and other homeowners are forced to pay for rented accommodation on top of their mortgage payments, insolvencies and bankruptcies are inevitable.

The big issue is that banks are offering us more time but this could drag on indefinitely. The more time that is added on, the more interest that keeps accruing. We need to get a freeze put on the mortgages.

Usher also claims that Finance Minister Michael Noonan has advised the owners – through a letter – to “keep an eye out for insolvency legislation as we may need to avail of it”.

“Kenny and Hogan have both said that we are in this situation through no fault of our own but there is still no sign of them admitting that the State has some responsibility,” added Usher.

Displaced Priory Hall residents unable to secure meeting with Taoiseach
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The Donaghmede complex was condemned due to fire hazard concerns and the necessary repairs have not been carried out. McFeely has since been declared bankrupt in England. With a repairs bill of €7.3 million which the council, developer and residents all say they cannot afford to pay, it is unclear when (if ever) the residents will be able to move back in.

Related: Minister: Priory Hall concerns were raised in 2006>
More of TheJournal.ie’s coverage of the Priory Hall controversy>

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