Priory Hall residents hold vigil outside homes

Tue, Dec 18, 2012, 00:00

Residents of the Priory Hall apartment complex in north Dublin braved the bitter cold last night to hold a vigil outside homes they cannot safely enter for a second Christmas.

Their properties were abandoned on October 14th last year after being declared a fire hazard. The residents – 256 people in 187 apartments – were given 48 hours to leave.

More than a year later they face an uncertain future and are still liable for mortgage repayments on their homes.

Dublin City Council – under High Court orders – has spent more than €2 million on accommodation for them. But an appeal to the Supreme Court means residents again face the threat of being forced to search for alternative homes.

Last night about 150 residents, many with small children in tow, huddled in small groups, clutching red candles at the Donaghmede complex.

Passersby beeped their support as the children held aloft signs reading: “Santa please don’t stop here.”

When Graham Usher of the residents committee urged those present to remember the no show by Government TDs at the vigil when next they come looking for votes, there were cries of “hear! hear!”.

“Remember that when you needed them, they were nowhere to be seen,” he said .

Stephanie Meehan (35) and partner Fiachra Daly (37) moved into Priory Hall in 2008 with eldest child Oisín, now seven. The couple have since added to their family with 20-month-old Cerys.

“We bought with the intention of making it our family home,” she said last night. “It’s been very upsetting. From the minute we moved in we had problems: our windows leaked and the balconies were built on an inward tilt, so if there was any heavy rainfall it just rolled into the apartment.”

Independent TD Finian McGrath attended the vigil and said there was “no room at the inn” for residents.