Council cannot rehouse Longboat Quay residents, says Keegan

Apartment residents should bear no costs of fire safety work, say Dublin city councillors

Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan: said council had ‘no direct role’ in relation to Longboat Quay apartment complex. Photograph: Alan Betson

Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan: said council had ‘no direct role’ in relation to Longboat Quay apartment complex. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Dublin City Council will not be able to rehouse the residents of the Longboat Quay apartment complex if it is evacuated, council chief executive Owen Keegan has said.

Dublin Fire Brigade has issued a fire safety notice giving residents of the 299 apartments, built in 2006 by developer Bernard McNamara, until November 1st to start fixing the defects in the complex. Failure to comply with the fire notice could result in evacuation of the building.

Mr Keegan said on Monday night the council had “no direct role” in relation to the complex and said it was “blindingly obvious” the council would not be in a position to source accommodation for the almost 900 residents.

Common areas

Mr Keegan is also the chairman of the board of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA). The authority has ownership of common areas in Longboat Quay and also has an interest in 37 apartments that were bought under the affordable housing scheme. The receiver to Mr McNamara’s company Gendson – Peter Coyne of Duff & Phelps – owns 18 apartments in the scheme and is being funded by Nama.

The authority and Nama last week made an offer of €2.75 million, but this includes almost €1.25 million already spent by the DDDA on the installation of fire alarms. Residents said the offer was “wholly unacceptable” and insufficient to allow work to begin. Costs have been estimated at more than €4 million.

“We are not responsible for the construction of Longboat Quay and we have no contractual arrangement in relation to the standard of repair or the construction of the apartments,” Mr Keegan said.

However, he said an offer of funding towards the repairs “without the admission of liability” had been made by the authority and Nama.

Cross-party motion

Councillors on Monday night agreed a cross-party motion calling on Mr Keegan to work to resolve the fire safety issues without any cost to the residents.

Residents met Lord Mayor of Dublin Críona Ní Dhálaigh ahead of last night’s meeting. “How can we have a situation where all these people could be rendered homeless and nobody held accountable?” said Ms Ní Dhálaigh of Sinn Féin.

Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan said Mr McNamara had “a moral obligation to step up to the plate”. Fine Gael’s Kieran Binchy said the council had a “moral and legal responsibilty to ensure not one person is made homeless”. Independent councillor Mannix Flynn said residents “should not be strong-armed into paying any money”.

Residents are due to meet Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly on Tuesday. Speaking after Monday night’s meeting they said they were “bitterly disappointed with the completely inadequate progress” made to date.