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Priory Hall developer granted stay on three-month sentence

The High Court had jailed and fined Thomas McFeely over his failure to carry out urgent remedial works on the Donaghmede apartment complex but he won a reprieve against the sentence.

Tom McFeely leaving court after being ordered to surrender his passport last month. McFeely was today jailed for three months, and fined €1m.
Tom McFeely leaving court after being ordered to surrender his passport last month. McFeely was today jailed for three months, and fined €1m.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Updated 5.39pm

THE SUPREME COURT has granted property developer Thomas McFeely a reprieve against his three-month prison sentence and €1 million fine.

Earlier, the High Court jailed him for three months, and fined him €1 million, for contempt of court orders relating to his Priory Hall development.

The sentence was handed down by the President of the High Court, Justice Nicholas Kearns, at a hearing this morning.

The stay on that ruling will last until a full appeal is heard in the Supreme Court, said RTÉ.

RTÉ News said the court had ruled that McFeely had failed to comply with the court’s order to remedy the fire safety risks at the Priory Hall apartment complex in Donaghmede, which had been built by McFeely’s Coalport Developments.

240 residents remain evacuated from the complex of 187 apartments, on the order of courts which had heard that the complex posed a major risk to fire safety.

The Irish Times’ Mary Carolan reported Justice Kearns as saying there had been “a very severe breach” in the case, adding that the distress and disruption caused to the displaced residents had no parallel.

McFeely had been aware of the shortcomings at the premises since 2008, Justice Kearns added, and had failed to address the problem with the urgency required.

McFeely had denied the breach, arguing through his counsel that he had been treated unfairly and that he could not complete the works by the date required – Monday 28 November – because the court had ordered his staff off the site on application from Dublin City Council.

The current condition of the Priory Hall apartment complex, as submitted by a reader of TheJournal.ie.

In a statement read outside the court, the residents of Priory Hall said they were satisfied “that finally, somebody other than us, has been punished”.

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“Tom McFeely recklessly endangered our lives and the lives of our children just to line his own pockets,” they continued, though admitting that his imprisonment “provides no consolation or long-term solution to the problems he created at Priory Hall.

The residents called on Dublin City Council, the government and the various lenders “to work together to find a long-term viable solution to Priory Hall” and on environment minister Phil Hogan to meet with them.

McFeely and Lawrence O’Mahony, the other director of Coalport Developments, were last month ordered to surrender their passports after admitting they did not have the cash to cover the cost of alternative accommodation for the residents.

Dublin City Council is currently covering the cost of rehousing the 240 people displaced by the evacuation, but has sought leave to appeal this order to the Supreme Court.

Residents fear that they could be left homeless for Christmas if the Council wins that appeal, with one resident telling TheJournal.ie this afternoon that they could not afford to pay extra rent for further accommodation as well as a mortgage for the apartment they bought in Priory Hall.

City council to appeal Priory Hall court order >

High Court removes developer from Priory Hall >

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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