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Mother and four kids to be evacuated from Dublin flat over fire safety concerns

Some tenants in the building say they have nowhere else to go and will be on the streets if forced to leave.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE OWNERS OF a Dublin property have consented to a High Court order requiring the residents, including a mother and her four young children, to evacuate the building due to “serious” fire safety concerns.

Dublin City Council sought the order in respect of a building located at 3 Kelly’s Row, Dublin 1, and including 20 Dorset Street in Dublin’s north inner city, which contains several flats.

Yesterday the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, granted an application by the Council, to serve short notice of the proceedings on Frank Chatham and Joseph Simpson, owners of the property

Today when the matter returned before the court the Judge was informed the owners were consenting to the order sought by the council.

One of the owners Mr Joseph Simpson, who represented himself in court, said while he had no problem with the order being made he disputed certain claims made on behalf of DCC.

He said he rejected claims including that nothing had been done by the owners since they were served with a fire safety notice prohibiting the use of the flats in March.

He said arising out of that notice he and his co-owner asked the tenants to leave the building so they could comply with fire safety requirements, and they had stopped collecting rent.

However he said the tenants remained on the premises. He also rejected claims that the owners had refused to return deposits paid by the tenants.

He said that before they stopped collecting rent arrears had built up. He also said the tenants had been offered €600 each to leave. He also said the flats had been vandalised.

In a statement following the verdict today, he said he was in “full agreement” with the court’s order.

Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

‘Unsafe’

James Connolly SC for DCC said Dublin Fire Brigade Officer Mr Thomas Daly had in a sworn statement to the court said a letter had been given to the residents of the four flats telling them the risk in the event of fire was so serious that the premises were unsafe and should be evacuated.

Persons were present at three of the four occupied flats, counsel said. One occupant would not open the door, but Mr Daly spoke to him through the door. Counsel said Mr Daly pinned the letter to a door of one tenant, a Romanian woman, who was not in.

Counsel said one of the tenants informed Mr Daly she had been waiting on the letter. Mr Daly was also informed a representative of the owners had been at the building earlier yesterday and said the tenants could remain, and that the required works would be done on the building.

Counsel said another occupant told Mr Daly that he would not leave as he could not get his deposit back. The occupant told Mr Daly that he would leave if he got 50% of his deposit back, counsel added.

Mr Justice Kearns in granting the orders prohibiting the use of the premises for the purposes of accommodation said the health and safety of the residents was the court’s “primary concern.”

One of the tenants told RTÉ news that he is in poor health and has nowhere to go if he has to leave. He said he will be “on the street” if he is forced to leave.

The Judge in reference to the provision of alternative accommodation for the tenants said that he did not want another Priory Hall on his hands. The matter was adjourned to next week.

Inspections

The building is a four storey building accessed via Kelly’s Row with a shop on the ground floor of 20 Dorset Street which is not affected by the Council’s application. There is no physical connection between that unit and the flats above it.

Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Previously the High Court heard that Fire brigade officers dealt with three incidents at the building since October 2014 and a fire safety notice took effect last March prohibiting use of the premises for residential/sleeping accommodation until specified measures have been taken to the satisfaction of the fire authority

The electricity was disconnected earlier this month and the only access to and escape from the flats is via a single staircase which itself is unsafe.

When the building was inspected earlier this week 11th, there was no evidence of any fire safety measures at the building, DDC claims.

The risk to persons in the event of a fire, it claims is “so serious” that use of the building should be immediately prohibited untuil measures outlined in the fire safety notice were taken to reduce the risk to a reasonable level.

The owners of the property, Mr Chatham, Arch Villas, Greystones, Co Wicklow and Mr Simpson, Tara Green, Ballymoney, Co Wexford, were served with a fire safety notice on March 27th last.

The court also heard Mr Simpson had written on May 1st the tenants were in the process of being moved from the premises. Mr Simpson also alleged 95% of the items in the fire safety notice had been covered in renovations of 2007, outstanding issues were being rectified and the fire brigade would be kept up to date.

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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