Dublin City Council Seeks Clarification on Priory Hall in Supreme Court tomorrow

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Dublin City Council, in the interest of all Fire Authorities, will seek clarification in the Supreme Court tomorrow, Thursday May 9th, on the extent to which Orders are capable of being made under the Fire Services Act, following the High Court Order issued on Priory Hall in October 2011. The City Council needs to do this for legal clarity as to the scope of its functions.

The application to the High Court brought by the City Council in October 2011, seeking to evacuate the premises, was taken solely to ensure the safety of families and persons who lived there. This function and legislative power was granted to the Fire Authority by the Oireachtas. Dublin City Council continues to seek a resolution for the residents under the chairmanship of retired judge, Mr Justice Finnegan, and the City Council is fully engaged in this process.

Evidence was given to the High Court on behalf of the City Council that, in the opinion of the Senior Executive Fire Prevention Officer, if a fire was to break out at the premises it would have spread within minutes. It is difficult to see how the action by the City Council to prevent the loss of life to fire, can be construed as anything other than acting in the best interests of the residents. Responsibility for the quality and fitness of the completed premises at Priory Hall is a matter for the developers, the building company and the professional persons engaged by them. It is their responsibility, to ensure proper compliance with the Building Control Acts and the statutory regulations laid down by law.

The Building Control system as set out in the Building Control Acts does not itself fail home owners. However, the operation of the system by professional advisers required examination and this has been addressed by new Regulations recently published by the Minister. 

The President of the High Court made the Order for temporary accommodation to ensure the safety of the residents, while the developer, Mr McFeely and his company, began required remedial works, which Mr. McFeely indicated would take 5 weeks to complete. Neither Mr. McFeely nor his company completed the works and have never sought to do so since then. It is unclear what the long term intention of the President of the High Court would have been, had the 5 weeks expired and the works not completed. The search for a long term solution to the Priory Hall situation is continuing with the full backing and involvement of Dublin City Council.  In acknowledgement of the plight of the residents to date and in the interests of their wellbeing, accommodation of the 41 families in temporary accommodation has been guaranteed to the end of November 2013, irrespective of the outcome of tomorrow’s application to the Supreme Court.

It should also be noted that Dublin City Council has at all times complied with the Order of the High Court in dealing with the accommodation of evacuated residents. The residents have been advised that the accommodation arrangement in place will continue until November 2013 regardless of the outcome of any Court case.  

Since the 2011 Court Order, Dublin City Council has spent a total of €2,913,152 on Priory Hall. This covers the cost of emergency lettings for all owner/occupiers, storage costs and security costs. It also covers assistance given to cover the cost difference between rents in Priory Hall and higher rents being paid by residents in receipt of Rent Supplement, evacuated from Priory Hall.

In advance of tomorrow’s Supreme Court Hearing, Dublin City Council will not be issuing any further comment in relation to Priory Hall.

Ends

Note to the Editor

Description of Costs incurred to Date:

Priory Hall Expenditure as at 8th May 2013

  • Salaries €10,624
  • Hotel Accommodation €398,577
  • Security €1,053,993
  • Engineering/surveys €357,816
  • Apartment Leasing €972,357
  • Misc Costs €119,785

Total: €2,913,152
 

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