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Council could offer Priory Hall residents €50,000 for apartments

But residents say they will reject any such offer as it would leave them homeless and force them into bankruptcy.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has tabled two unofficial proposals to owners of apartments at the ill-fated Priory Hall complex but neither are likely to lessen the enormous problems facing residents.

Although no formal proposal has been put forward, the council suggested it could pay €50,000 per unit to buy 100 apartments which currently cannot be lived in because of safety concerns.

The suggestion was made at a meeting between the DCC and the Priory Hall residents’ committee but no financing or commitment was given.

A spokesperson for Priory Hall told TheJournal.ie that even it it was, the proposal is not an option for residents.

“We have mortgages of at least €250,000 so we would have no way of paying for that loan if we sold the properties for €50k,” said Graham Usher.

The only winner in that scenario is the council. We would have a large personal loan and also need to find a way to pay for new accommodation. We would be homeless and forced into bankruptcy.”

A second suggestion involved a rental agreement utilising the developer Tom McFeely’s remaining 60 apartments. However, no details of this were fleshed out, said Usher.

However, it would be likely that residents would have to foot some of the €7.3 million repair bill.

No formal offers have been made by DCC in terms of either suggestion and the council wishes to keep all communications between the two parties confidential.

Facing destitution

Fears are mounting among the 100 owner-occupiers of the substandard Donaghmede complex that they will “have to face the worst” after a Supreme Court hearing on 19 January.

The council is contesting a High Court ruling that it should cover the costs of temporary accommodation for the residents until works have been completed at the apartment block.

The total bill to date has been €570,000 but a further €135,000 is expected to be spent on housing.

The council will argue in the Supreme Court that they should not be liable after 3 February and residents fear it will win the appeal.

As a result, the residents’ committee has asked financial experts to come and talk to the apartments’ owners about the consequences of defaulting on mortgages and bankruptcy.

Who is responsible?

Priory Hall was evacuated on 17 October after the council deemed it unsafe over fire hazard concerns.

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Usher has called on DCC to “stand up and take responsibility” for the situation as it was the building control authority overseeing the development.

“The building site of Priory Hall was the subject of failed health and safety inspections back in 2006. If the site itself was dangerous, why was the finished development not one of the council’s 15 per cent that are inspected?” asks Usher.

Previously, he told TheJournal.ie that the doomed complex shows “a complete failure on the part of the State and the local authority”.

“It is not an overstatement to say that we all now face destitution,” he concluded.

This video of the complex’s car park was taken by the residents’ committee this weekend to highlight how much the development has deteriorated since it was emptied three months ago. It has experienced on-and-off flooding but water levels had reached 2 feet when this footage was captured.

McFeely, was sentenced in November to jail for three months and fined €1 million for contempt of court orders relating to his development. The judge in the case later granted McFeely a reprieve against the sentence.

Read: Ours will just be the first case of many>

Read: Priory Hall residents ask Taoiseach to intervene>

Read: Residents tell McFeely: ‘We don’t wish you a Happy New Year’>

In pictures: Six weeks on, Priory Hall is a ghost town>

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