Priory Hall solution deadline of 21 days
Taoiseach and Minister for Environment commit to resolving issue
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has set the three-week deadline following the collapse of a mediation process
Dublin City Council, the Irish Banking Federation and Nama have been given 21 days to produce a solution for the Priory Hall apartment owners evacuated from their homes almost two years ago.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has set the three-week deadline following the collapse of a mediation process, set up 18 months ago under the chairmanship of retired Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was confident there would be positive a result for residents who had been “consigned with big mortgages to what were effectively firetraps” by the failure of others to do their jobs.
“Priory Hall, as I said before, is an example of the worst of the excesses of the so-called tiger years where everybody from developers to banks to monitoring agencies did not do their job . . . we want a solution for the people in Priory Hall and we’ll get a solution in respect of the people in Priory Hall”.
Judge Finnegan had been asked by the council to find a solution to the impasse between the residents, who were evacuated from their unsafe homes in October 2011, and the banks with which they had mortgages. He recently told the council he had been unable to broker an agreement.
Mr Hogan said he wanted “ fair and equitable” solution for the homeowners and for the future of the complex.
“I have become aware recently that, regrettably, the resolution process under Judge Finnegan has not identified a basis on which the parties could agree to bring to a conclusion the various matters at issue at Priory Hall,” Mr Hogan said.
“The most pressing need is to identify a solution to the unacceptable position in which the former owner-occupiers find themselves.”
Mr Hogan has not met any residents of Priory Hall since they were forced to abandon their properties. Former resident Fiachra Daly died by suicide in July. KBC Bank, which loaned Mr Daly and his partner Stephanie Meehan the mortgage, have said they will not pursue her for any further debt.
Other banks have said they will deal with other families on a case-by-case basis.
Mr Hogan has asked those involved in the Priory Hall dispute to show “good faith” in the process. “I have set down a short period of time to reach conclusions, and I would urge all parties to work together constructively.”
The council is appealing a High Court order that it cover the accommodation costs of the evacuated residents. The case resumes in the Supreme Court on October 15th.
The council welcomed the new resolution process. “We welcome the announcement today by the Minister to facilitate a dialogue with the Irish Banking Federation and the other stakeholders which we hope will identify a fair and reasonable outcome for the residents who find themselves in this very difficult predicament.”
Residents’ spokesman Graham Usher said he was “cautiously hopeful”. “The banks have not properly engaged in the process up to now, but the Taoiseach and the Minister have given a commitment that a solution will be found.”