Council unaware of where 22 'unfortunate people' have gone after Dublin 'fire trap' is vacated

By Ann O'Loughlin

A building in Dublin used as a hostel and described by a judge as a fire "trap" has been vacated, the High Court heard today.

The two connected premises at 12-14 Old County Road, Crumlin, housed 22 people, believed to be mainly from Brazil, when it came to the attention of the fire authority last Friday. It had housed up to 52, the court heard.

Inspections revealed there were no escape routes or fire alarms and Dublin City Council went to court to seek that it be immediately vacated.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan, while expressing concern there appeared to be no alternative accommodation for the people living there, granted an interim order on Wednesday that the building be vacated immediately. He returned the case to today.

Conleth Bradley SC, for the council, told him today the building had been vacated in line with the court order which was made against the registered owners, John and Yvonne McEleney, who had not been contactable to date.

Mr Bradley said his client had received an email from a John McEleney, who appears to be based in the UK, stating he was one of the registered owners of one of the two premises but not a beneficial owner. He had read about the court order in the media and had contacted his step sister, Yvonne, the other registered owner, about the matter.

Mr Bradley said there appeared to be two John McEleneys, an uncle and nephew, along with a third man called Edward (Eddie) McEleney connected to the properties. Mr Bradley sought and was given permission to amend the proceedings to include the nephew and Eddie.

Counsel asked that the order, that the premises be vacated, be made final by the court.

Brendan Brady BL, for John and Yvonne McElleney, said while his clients were the registered owner of number 12, number 14 belongs to another party. He asked for time to allow his clients put in replying affidavits.

Mr Justice Noonan asked what had happened to the "unfortunate people" who had lived there and was told by Mr Bradley he was not sure where the people went. The court heard on Wednesday there was no alternative accommodation available in Dublin for the homeless for that night.

The judge said he was prepared to make his interim order interlocutory, which means it remains in place until the full hearing of the matter. He said however the McEleneys would be given an opportunity to put in their side of the story on affidavit in the meantime.

The respondents seem to be saying they have an interest in one of the properties but have no control over it, the judge remarked.

He adjourned the case for two weeks.

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