IT HAS BEEN ten months since the 256 residents of Priory Hall were evacuated from their homes because of fire safety concerns.
Since then, Dublin City Council has been providing temporary accommodation but no work to remedy the situation at the Donaghmede complex has been undertaken.
The substandard fire safety work had created an environment so hazardous that the council could not allow anyone to live there until €7.3 million worth of repair works were carried out.
One of the previous occupants, Graham Usher, visited his property for the “first time in months” earlier this week.
“Ten months on and nothing has been done,” he told TheJournal.ie. “They look in a bit of a state, as you can image.”
Security personnel, who have been on guard at the complex since 17 October, told Usher to be careful because the number of rats spotted on the grounds has escalated.
The damp problems in individual apartments have also worsened, with one resident noting that mould had started to grow on the walls of her home.
“The place is deteriorating fast,” continued Usher. “There is no electricity so it is just getting dank and damp.”
The financial predicament that the residents now face has “put their lives on hold”. “I think people are struggling at this stage. Almost a year on, people want it to come to an end.
“It is impossible to plan for the future. The temporary accommodation is fine but the problem is living month to month. Living life by court dates. It is the uncertainty that gets to us.”
Dublin City Council are waiting for the hearing date for a Supreme Court appeal against an order which made it responsible for paying for the current housing of the residents.
Last month, the developer Tom McFeely won his appeal to have a three month prison sentence and €1 million fine overturned.
The banks, residents and DCC are also in the midsts of a resolution process but the former residents have declined to comment on the proceedings. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens,” added Usher.
Yesterday, Fine Gael councillor Paddy McCartan said he will ask the Dublin City Manager to claim costs from the sale of the repossessed home of McFeely in order to offset costs the council has had to bear to provide temporary accommodation.
He believes the total bill from the “whole debacle” will reach almost €2 million. The councillor said he will be raising the issue at the next meeting in September.
“Residents and many young families have paid the highest price for the actions of the Priory Hall developer…and nobody has lost sight of that,” he said. “I feel very sympathetic towards them, particularly given they are still responsible to maintain mortgages on these worthless properties.
“However, the council also needed to be recompensed and I will be calling on the Dublin City Manager and council officials to engage with NAMA to ensure that some or all of the proceeds of the sale of McFeely’s former residence on Ailesbury Road in Ballsbridge be transferred to Dublin City Council to ease the financial burden that it now shoulders.”
NAMA could not comment on the request as it does not issue statements on individual debtors.