New Priory apartments could be empty for Christmas

Councillors must approve sales on Monday night to allow new owners to move in

The old Priory Hall development in north Dublin, the notorious fire-trap complex built in 2007 by former IRA hunger striker Tom McFeely. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The old Priory Hall development in north Dublin, the notorious fire-trap complex built in 2007 by former IRA hunger striker Tom McFeely. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Sales of “New Priory” apartments must be approved by Dublin city councillors on Monday if the new owners are to be in their homes by Christmas, council officials have said.

Earlier this year, the council completed the refurbishment of 60 apartments at Priory Hall, the notorious fire-trap complex in north Dublin built in 2007 by former IRA hunger striker Tom McFeely. Work on the remaining 120 apartments is due to start early next year.

In October, 43 refurbished apartments went on sale under the name New Priory, and have made a total of €7.3 million, with all sold within days of viewing.

However, city councillors must approve the sales on Monday night to allow the new owners to move in to the apartments in the coming weeks.

Anti-Austerity Alliance councillor Michael O’Brien said he wants to stop the sale of six of the apartments, which he claimed are being sold to property firms.

“My concerns about this on transparency grounds as well on grounds of the obscenity of Dublin City Council selling apartments to property firms in the context of a housing and homelessness crisis were brushed aside by some of my fellow councillors in a recent area committee meeting in Coolock,” he said.

“I am inundated daily with calls from local housing applicants, many facing their second Christmas in emergency accommodation who cannot understand why Dublin City Council is doing this.”

Named individuals

While most of the apartments are being sold to named individuals, three are being bought by Harley Holdings, two by Gaughran Homes Ireland and one by Woodview Trading Limited.

However, the council’s executive housing manager Tony Flynn said he was satisfied the six apartments were mostly being bought by owner-occupiers.

“For data protection reasons we cannot say who the six are, but we are satisfied the majority are owner-occupiers or people buying for family members who have chosen to buy through a company.”

The council’s role was to facilitate the agreement reached in 2013 two years after the residents evacuated form the complex by order of the High Court, Mr Flynn said, and could not impose additional conditions on the sales.

Under the 2013 deal, banks agreed to write off debts of 62 owner-occupiers and 25 buy-to-let owners were given a moratorium on mortgage payments.

The council agreed to sell the 62 apartments that were owner-occupied, as well as 65 apartments that were owned by Mr McFeely and were subsequently taken over by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).

The council had owned 35 apartments in the complex, and these will remain as social housing, while the buy-to-let investors will be handed back their apartments once complete.

Sinn Féin, the largest group on the council, said it would not oppose the sales.

“What we want to see is people being housed here as quickly as possible. What we understand from the council management is that it would cause difficulties with the agreement that was reached, and could unravel the whole thing, if we try and impose conditions on these sales,” Sinn Féin’s Mícheal Mac Donncha said.