Priory Hall residents to get ‘fresh start’ after council vows to refurbish complex

Hogan announces breakthrough in long-running dispute over Dublin apartments

The firetrap apartment complex built in 2007 by former IRA hunger-striker Tom McFeely is to be refurbished by Dublin City Council. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/Irish Times

The firetrap apartment complex built in 2007 by former IRA hunger-striker Tom McFeely is to be refurbished by Dublin City Council. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/Irish Times

Mon, Oct 7, 2013, 19:55

Owners of the Priory Hall apartments in north Dublin are to be given a “fresh start” Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has said, two years since they were evicted from their unsafe homes.

The firetrap apartment complex built in 2007 by former IRA hunger-striker Tom McFeely is to be refurbished by Dublin City Council at a cost estimated to be in excess of €10 million.

However owner-occupiers will not be forced to return to the complex and it is understood will be offered “debt forgiveness” on their mortgages.

A resolution process involving the council, the Irish Banking Federation, Nama and other stakeholders, set by the Minister up three weeks ago, today reached a conclusion.

Mr Hogan tonight said he would not give details of the proposals before they had been considered by the former residents, but he described them as a “breakthrough” which would give people a fresh start.

“The proposals are now being considered by the residents and I believe they are a fair and reasonable outcome. They will give owner occupiers options to allow them make a fresh start and get on with their lives.”

Despite recently suggesting demolition could be the solution Mr Hogan said the complex would be “refurbished into a desirable, high quality, safe location by Dublin City Council.”

He described the residents situation as “exceptional and unique”. Rather than one solution a framework had been established to deal with their differing needs. Some residents have large mortgages, others were cash buyers, and some availed of shared-ownership schemes.

Residents’ spokesman Graham Usher said the proposals would now be considered by the residents. “Obviously there are logistical difficulties in getting 90 families together, and talks are still ongoing, but the residents’ committee are at a point where we can go back to residents with proposals. I wouldn’t like to comment further until they have had a chance to consider them.”

Mr Hogan set the three-week deadline following the collapse of a mediation process between the residents and the banks set up 18 months ago under the chairmanship of retired Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan.

The council had been appealing a High Court order that it cover the accommodation costs of the evacuated residents. The case was due to resume in the Supreme Court on October 15th. The council last night said it noted Mr Hogan’s statement and would continue to work to resolve the issue.