Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Deadline set in Priory Hall dispute

Phil Hogan said he wants to see a fair and equitable plan for the Priory Hall families evacuated from their homes
Phil Hogan said he wants to see a fair and equitable plan for the Priory Hall families evacuated from their homes

A three-week deadline has been set for a resolution to the long-running dispute over the future of the condemned Priory Hall development.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan said he wants to see a fair and equitable plan for the families evacuated from their homes in the north Dublin complex and left with mounting debts.

He has ordered talks involving Dublin City Council, the Irish Banking Federation, Nama, former residents and other stakeholders.

Judge Joseph Finnegan had been asked to look at the issue of families and homeowners being forced out of their properties because the complex is considered a fire hazard and was due to report by mid-October.

Residents claimed that he had not been given the power to order how the matter should be resolved.

But the minister said he has been told the judge has not been able to find a solution to the crisis of dozens of families being forced out of their homes and left with thousands in mortgage debt.

"I have become aware recently that, regrettably, the resolution process under Judge Finnegan has not ide ntified 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.

One former resident Fiachra Daly died by suicide in July. KBC Bank, which lent Mr Daly and his partner Stephanie Meehan the mortgage, have said they will not pursue her for any 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".

"The full resolution of the Priory Hall situation is the ultimate goal. However, after two years in personally very difficult circumstances, it is vital that the former residents are facilitated in as timely a manner as possible in getting on with their lives," he said.

"I have set down a short period of time to reach conclusions and I would urge all parties to work together constructively."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government would get a solution to Priory Hall for the people who were living there.

"The Government needs to be able to be seen here to listen and to have listened to the injustice that was put upon those people," he said.

"And those people have been moved around for quite some time, having been moved out of Priory Hall in an emergency situation and were consigned to be involved with what were effectively firetraps."

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