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AIB promises to engage over Priory Hall as Minister says it may be demolished

The environment minister says that he cannot give a time frame on when action will be taken on Priory Hall, for fear of “giving false hope” to displaced residents.

Updated 22:59

NEARLY TWO YEARS after 256 residents were evacuated from the Priory Hall complex in Donaghmede, the Minister for Environment Phil Hogan has said that the development may have to be knocked down.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of Allied Irish Banks (AIB) has said that the bank plans to engage with customers who have mortgages at the derelict housing complex in north Dublin.

Speaking on Today With Séan O’Rourke earlier, Hogan offered his sympathies to the family of Priory Hall resident Fiachra Daly, who took his own life in July.

“First of all, I wish to express my sympathy to the family.

“This is a perfect example of the legacy we inherited in relation to the defective building control legislation. It is the worst example of Celtic Tiger excess.”

Hogan said that he expects former Justice Joseph Finnegan, to present his plan for a solution to the Priory Hall debacle within the next month. However, he said he could not get involved with the proceedings for fear of affecting the case.

Asked if the Department of Environment would “take out their chequebook”, Hogan said that the department was already paying for alternative accommodation and had proposals to make when the court process is finished.

“It is one of the great tragedies of the Celtic Tiger where the processes at local level, department level and development level did what they liked.

“I have changed the regulation so that it will not happen again.”

Bank serious in its desire

Asked if he was going to solve the problem, Hogan was blunt in saying “I am.”

“I’m going to do so at the end of the court process. I am going to engage with banks on behalf of the homeowners. I am going to look at what the most viable solution for the building itself.

We have a very open mind on the options regarding the building. We may have to demolish it and start again.

“The most important thing is that the families are able to get back together. This has happened through no fault of theirs.”

This evening, AIB chief Duffy told an Oireachtas Finance Committee that the bank wants to ‘put a long-term permanent solution in place’ for its 18 mortgage holders in Priory Hall and said that it will begin engaging with them in next couple of weeks.

The 18 different cases include those who have mortgages with EBS which is also part of the AIB group.

Duffy was responding to Labour TD Aodhán O’Ríordáin who asked the CEO to consider the fact that the his “words are being pored over and clung to by those in difficult situations”.

Duffy said that the bank has previously attempted to contact the affected homeowners and has been successful in all but four cases. He added that the bank is serious in its desire to find a solution and the fact that it has made the pledge in such a public arena demonstrates its commitment.

- additional reporting Rónán Duffy

First published 11am

Read: Priory Hall resident writes to Taoiseach after partner takes his own life
Read: Two years on: Pictures show Priory Hall apartments in ruin

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