Safety fears scupper meeting on €10m Dublin complex defects bill

Room at hotel not big enough as 350 Beacon apartment residents try to attend agm

Attempts to resolve more than €10 million in fire safety and other structural defects at the Beacon South Quarter apartments in south Dublin stalled on Monday night after too many people attended the agm of the development’s management company.

Residents who had queued for up to an hour for the meeting were told it was being adjourned due to health and safety concerns because the room booked at the Clayton Hotel in Leopardstown could not cater for the numbers present.

More than 350 residents had tried to attend the meeting, which was called to seek agreement from apartment owners to pay into a sinking fund to pay for the remedial works.

A report last year by fire consultants Jeremy Gardner and Associates, commissioned by BSQ Management Company, found a large number of fire-safety deficiencies which varied in seriousness.


They did not make any of the blocks “potentially dangerous buildings” that would require evacuation under fire regulations.

Beacon South Quarter was built in 2005 by Landmark Enterprises, led by developer Paddy Shovlin. The company went into receivership in 2010.

Killian Ryan, acting chairman of the recently-formed Beacon South Quarter Owners' Group, said there was great anger among many residents that the meeting did not go ahead.

Sinking fund

“There were 200 people in the room and about 150 queuing on the stairs who couldn’t get in the room,” he said.

Aoife Culleton, who owns an apartment in the development, said the proposal to impose the charge on residents would have been rejected had the meeting gone ahead.

Owners of apartments in blocks A, B1, C and D were being asked by BSQ Management Company Ltd to pay €9.1 million into a sinking fund for fire remedial works. Residents in blocks A and D were being asked for just more than €1 million in relation to water damage.

Property investment company Ires Reit, the State's largest private landlord, owns 25 per cent of about 600 apartments affected by water damage and inadequate fire-safety provisions at the complex.

As the largest single owner of apartments it was facing charges of €2.7 million, and had previously said it planned to vote in favour of the charge. However, a spokesman Monday night said it had decided to ask for a postponement of the decision.

“We are in favour of getting ahead with the work, but we don’t want to force the issue. We just want to do what’s right for everybody.”

Housing Association Cluid, which owns a block of 58 apartments and is facing a bill of more than €500,000, had planned to vote against the payments because it had yet to receive adequate information on the costs.

Social housing

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council owns 18 apartments in the complex which are used for social housing. It had intended to seek a deferral of the decision to allow it to fully consider the fire report.

A spokeswoman for the management company Monday night said it would not be making any comment. Owners were told the meeting would be rearranged in a larger venue in a month’s time.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross, a local TD, attended the meeting and said the owners found themselves in a "very, very difficult situation, through no fault of their own".

“I hope we can work out a plan to resolve the extraordinary situation they find themselves in.”

Local Green Party TD Catherine Martin said the State had to bear some of the cost burden.

Local Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan said owners did not know whether the overall figure quoted to them represented the best value for money.

Beacon developer Paddy Shovlin

A former racing driver, 53-year-old Paddy Shovlin started out in the restaurant and hotel business, with enterprises including Whites on the Green, Thunder Road Café and the Morgan Hotel in Temple Bar, Dublin.

He came to prominence as a property developer as the boom was reaching its peak with investments including the €500 million development of the Beacon South Quarter; the purchase as part of a consortium of Bank of Ireland's former HQ on Baggot Street for more than €200 million in 2006; and the €30 million purchase of a housing site beside Clarehall shopping centre in north Dublin the same year.

Not long after, the bottom fell out of the market and the banks called in Mr Shovlin’s loans. In late 2010, he became one of the first developers against whom Nama secured orders in the Commercial Court for repayment of debt.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly granted Nama a judgment of €25 million against Mr Shovlin in relation to personal guarantees refinancing loans from Bank of Ireland for Beacon South Quarter.

Simon Coyle of Mazars, was appointed by Bank of Ireland to the Beacon South Quarter in 2010 and Mr Shovlin's company Landmark Enterprises, remains in receivership.

He declared bankruptcy in the UK in May 2012.

He has since exited bankruptcy and it is understood remains there.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times