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Priory Hall residents ask Taoiseach to intervene

Emails show that Taoiseach says he will pass matter onto Phil Hogan – but Minister Hogan won’t meet with residents.

Some residents of Priory Hall protesting outside the Dáil in December.
Some residents of Priory Hall protesting outside the Dáil in December.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE RESIDENTS OF Priory Hall apartments have appealed once more to Taoiseach Enda Kenny to intervene in their case.

One resident of the complex, which has had to be been evacuated because of serious safety concerns, wrote an email to the Taoiseach over Christmas to ask for his help in resolving the situation. Resident Liz Donegan received a return email from one of the Taoiseach’s private secretaries, stating that he had “noted” the points she raised and that her correspondence had been copied to Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan.

However, Liz Donegan claimed that the residents of Priory Hall had requested meetings with Phil Hogan “on four separate occasions as I understand it” and that he had declined all invitations to meet.

This evening, the chairperson of the Priory Hall Residents Committee, Sinéad Power, addressed the following email to the Taoiseach:

Dear Taoiseach,

My neighbour Liz Donegan has been writing directly to you over the Xmas holidays asking you to intervene and help the home owners of Prioryhall, today she received the below response from your private secretary advising that the details of her mails have been passed to Minister Hogan and that you extend your very best wishes to her. Although it is a very nice email, the problem is Minister Hogan has made it perfectly clear that he will not meet with the residents of Prioryhall. Which is why Liz and indeed all the residents in Prioryhall are asking you to intervene

It’s 79 days since we were evacuated from our homes, and this month we have to fight to stay in our emergency accommodation. We feel that the Government is completely ignoring our plight. Minister Hogan still refuses to meet us. DCC (Dublin City Council) are going to the Supreme Court on the 19th of Jan to seek to over turn the High Court Order on our accommodation expenses. The result of which will mean the residents of Prioryhall will be faced with a life changing decision, defaulting on our mortgages and renting privately or being homeless and continuing to pay mortgages on homes we cannot live in.

When I think back to that weekend in Oct, when we learned that we had to 48 hours to evacuate our homes, that was traumatic enough. Most people plan a house move over a few months, they get organized, pack their things neatly away, have somewhere to store their belongings etc. We had 48 hours to pack up 4 years of our lives, everything we owned. Can you imagine what it was like, 200+ families all trying to move at the same time? The thing I remember most from that weekend was being thankful to be leaving Prioryhall alive. After hearing the evidence given by the Chief Fire Officer as he described in detail the litany of life threatening defects in our homes. The Building was so dangerous, that it could have burned down in minutes, according to the evidence given by DCC Chief Fire Officer, when he took the stand to give evidence in the High Court. In fact it was so dangerous that a Fire Brigade was stationed outside our homes before we even got back from the court. This Fire Brigade remained there until we all left our homes… such was the immediate danger!

As the months have passed I have become very angry. I remembered that Dublin City Council had moved out their own tenants Xmas week 2009 because of the risk to their lives yet they left us living in this building for a further 2 years. Why were our lives not as important? This is the same DCC who is seeking to make us homeless again in the next couple of weeks.

The home owners and their families, kids included, spent every Friday for 5 weeks in the High Court, finally on the 5th Friday Justice Kearns sentenced Thomas McFeely ( the developer ) to 3 months imprisonment and a million euro fine. McFeely was due to begin his sentence at 4pm that same Friday, 2 hours later he went to the Supreme Court to appeal and was freed. Dublin City Council’s lawyer had been informed of the stay application but had said the council was not participating in that matter, the court was told. Chief Justice Mrs Justice Susan Denham said the court regarded the council’s position as “extraordinary” and would grant the stay and direct the immediate release of Mr McFeely.

We have asked DCC why they decided to pursue the developer through the High Court for 5 weeks and then not turn up to the appeal in the Supreme Court. Maybe An Taoiseach you could find out the answer as we have not been able to get an answer,  it is another complete waste of tax payers money and no accountability. Can you imagine how we felt, totally let down again by DCC.  We were left homeless and the developer responsible for putting our lives at risk goes home to his 15million home in Ailesbury Road?

In early December the homeowners of Prioryhall were issued with copies of the Enforcement Notice served on the Developer of Prioryhall, it is 18 pages long, listing all the non fire ( structural ) breaches of the Building Regulations in Prioryhall. These show substantial defects in the building aside from the life threatening Fire issues. It should also be noted that the developers of Prioryhall were already before the courts since early 2010 for Planning breaches.

Christmas week DCC issued a press statement on Prioryhall, the residents of Prioryhall learned through the newspapers that the estimated cost to fix our homes was approx €7.2 million. This was lovely news to get Christmas week.

We stand outside the Dail every Tuesday since leaving our homes protesting with our parents, family and friends, asking for help from our Government. The same Government who promised accountability and change before the election.

DCC’s legal team repeatedly stated during the High Court process that Prioryhall needed a Political solution. The Government position is  that it is a matter for DCC. Why will this Government not stand up for the ordinary people of this country, the decent hardworking young people? Instead it would appear that the bankers, developers and lax regulations will win out, or they will unless you step in and help us.

Prioryhall is like a monument to everything that was wrong in this country for the last 10 years. An Taoiseach, you have a chance to change Ireland for the better, Prioryhall would be a good place to start! Please help us!! The homeowners of Prioryhall just want a safe home, the home they paid for. I look forward to your response,

Kind regards,

Sinead.

Read: Priory Hall residents tell McFeely: “We don’t wish you a Happy New Year”>

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