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Ex-Provo Tom McFeely refuses to halt illegal building work in Belfast

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Tom McFeely Development on Wellington Park, Belfast

Tom McFeely Development on Wellington Park, Belfast

Tom McFeeley property development in South Belfast , Wellington Park.

Tom McFeeley property development in South Belfast , Wellington Park.

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Tom McFeely Development on Wellington Park, Belfast

Notorious cowboy builder Tom McFeely is refusing to stop illegal demolition work in a conservation area near Queen's University in Belfast.

The ex-IRA hunger striker was told by council officials that his uprooting of trees and bulldozing of a historic fence was a clear breach of planning control laws.

But hot-headed McFeely, who built the Priory Hall apartment block in Dublin which was evacuated because it was unsafe, is carrying on with the work regardless.

Both residents and politicians have appealed for the former multi-millionaire developer to stop, however he is refusing to listen to their calls.

McFeely has spent the past week on the site of the grand six-bedroom end-terrace at Wellington Park overseeing the building work.

A decade ago the property was valued at £1million, however its most recent for sale listing was seeking offers over £250,000.

A letter from planners at Belfast City Council, seen by Sunday Life, states: "The demolition works have taken place without demolition consent and therefore constitute a breach of planning control.

"The principle of the demolition would not be supported should a retrospective application be submitted, and both elements should be reinstated, like for like, to an agreed quality and timescale."

The elements referred to by planners are the uprooted trees and historic fence, sections of which were used to make weaponry for the British Army during World War II.

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Tom McFeeley property development in South Belfast , Wellington Park.

Tom McFeeley property development in South Belfast , Wellington Park.

Tom McFeeley property development in South Belfast , Wellington Park.

South Belfast Green Party MLA Clare Bailey has called on McFeely, who was declared bankrupt in 2012, to restore the features. Locals have also expressed concern about health and safety at the site after seeing a digger being operated at night and 30ft-tall unsecured wheel-mounted scaffolding being pushed around.

Ms Bailey said: "Belfast City Council investigated and found that the demolition work on the site took place without proper planning because the site is considered a conservation area.

"Council officers have issued a notice that the developer must rebuild two features that were demolished. I know that residents will be glad that the council has acted so quickly and let's hope the features are rebuilt as quickly as possible and to a decent standard."

However, McFeely is showing no signs of budging, previously telling Sunday Life that he has done nothing wrong. He also suggested opposition to the building work is because of his ex-IRA prisoner past, saying: "I've done nothing wrong here and I don't own the house, I'm just doing the building work."

This was after the Dungiven-born businessman told a reporter from this newspaper to "f**k off" and threatened to stick a photographer's camera "up his a**e".

McFeely served 12 years in jail in the 1980s for shooting an RUC officer during which he spent 53 days on hunger strike. After his release he moved to Dublin and established himself as a millionaire developer.

But his empire crumbled in 2012 - he lost his £4million home and ended up owing €200million to Ireland's bad bank Nama, which took control of billions of pounds of property loans damaging the financial sector.

The catalyst for McFeely's spectacular fall was his Priory Hall development which was so hastily constructed that it was deemed a fire hazard.

Many of the 250 residents who had bought apartments there lost their life savings with one, Fiachra Daly, tragically taking his own life because of the strain.

Sunday Life


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