Almost 250 people were moved out of their homes on the orders of a High Court judge this week because he found the development, Priory Hall in Donaghmede, Dublin, was a fire risk.
Many moved to a hotel. Other families moved to stay with relatives and friends.
Property developers behind the apartment complex, including former Maze prisoner Thomas McFeely, were ordered to surrender their passport by High Court President, Justice Nicholas Kearns.
The other developer is Larry O’Mahony. The judge heard neither had the resources to pay the €200,000 hotel bills of families evacuated from the 187-apartment Priory Hall complex.
Dublin City Council was given the order to evacuate the complex after the court heard it was a very serious fire safety risk, had significant structural deficiencies and insurance had been withdrawn.
McFeely, whose Coalport company built the apartments, undertook to carry out a schedule of remedial works agreed with the city council’s fire officer but said he did not have the funds to cover the residents’ hotel costs. O’Mahony, who was said to have supplied the land for the Priory Hall scheme, was described in court as a bankrupt in the U.K.
The hearing in Dublin was attended by a large contingent of Priory Hall residents, some of whom pursued McFeely from the court shouting questions about his commitment to refurbish the complex.
One resident shouted, “You couldn’t build a snowman.” Others were less polite.
McFeely told the resident he had been ruined by the property crash. He told the residents the banks had taken ownership of his home.
A Dublin City Council fire safety inspector said he would “police” the situation on a weekly basis while refurbishment was carried out. He described the situation as a “very upsetting experience” for all the residents.
The judge, after being told the council was not responsible for the cost of emergency accommodation, said he would not leave residents “in limbo” over who would pay.
He directed both McFeely and Larry O’Mahony to provide a statement of their means to the court by this Friday. The judge also warmed that if works were not completed in the allotted time between November 28 and next February, a contempt of court and a committal to prison could result.
Developer McFeely was in the Provisional IRA and spent 53 days on hunger strike in the Maze prison in 1980. He was serving a 26-year sentence for the attempted murder of a Northern Ireland policemen in a gun battle, possession of illegal weapons and a post office robbery.
McFeely served 12 years in jail and moved to Dublin after he was released in 1989, looking for work on building sites with just ₤240 sterling to sustain him.
He went on to become a multimillionaire property developer with a house on Ailesbury Road in Ballsbridge, Dublin which was worth up to €15 million at one stage.