High Court judge orders Dublin city centre property be vacated over fire safety issues

High Court judge orders Dublin city centre property be vacated over fire safety issues
A house on this street has been identified as a fire risk. Pic: Google Streetview

By Ann O'Loughlin

A High Court judge has ordered a Dublin city centre property described as a potential fire safety risk be vacated by all its residents by July 9.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan made the orders today in respect of 24 Mountjoy Square, subject of a fire safety notice since August of last year. The judge made the orders despite objections from a Polish family of 12 who the court heard wanted to remain in the property, and did not want to end up in B&B accommodation.

In his ruling, the judge said that he sympathised with the family who was an "innocent party," but the court "could not sit idly by" in regards to a fire safety issue.

The Judge directed the family, and up to a dozen students who had been living in the building's windowless basement, had to vacate the premises.

Mr Justice Gilligan noted Dublin City Council had issued a fire safety notice in August of last year, which the Judge said still remains in place.

Last March Ms Anne O'Dwyer of Duff & Phelps, was appointed receiver over the property which is owned by Christopher Singh of Lisnacree, Castleknock Road, Castleknock, Dublin 15 and used by his company TWI Textile Machinery and Fabric Company Ltd.

She brought proceedings aimed at securing vacant possession of the property, on grounds including that the fire safety notice has not been complied with and the property poses a fire safety risk.

The matter had been before the court on a number of occasions.

Yesterday, Nevan Powell Bl for the receiver said it remained his client's case the building isn't safe for residents and should be vacated. Counsel said the receiver was prepared on a humanitarian basis to make money available to aid the family secure alternative accommodation.

Yesterday, Karen Denning Bl for Dublin City Council said that following a recent inspection by a fire safety officer her client's position remains that the building is not suitable for use as accommodation.

Counsel also confirmed the family living at the premises were not tenants of Dublin City Council but were on the housing list.

Gerard Murphy Bl told the court he was representing the tenants who lived in an apartment on the third floor of the building. The court heard 12 people who are all members of one family have been living at the premises for the last number of years.

Counsel said the family, who were not fully aware of what was happening in respect of the property, were concerned about the disruption any move would have on them especially as they have two children in local schools and are settled in the area.

Vincent P Martin, Bl for Mr Singh, said substantial works had been carried out on the property by a fire safety expert hired by his client.

While a lot of the required fire safety works to make the building safe had been carried out it was accepted that the Council were not satisfied with what had been done, counsel said

In his ruling the Judge said that in light of the notice remaining in place the building had to be vacated and could not be used as accommodation. He was placing a stay on the order requiring the residents to vacate the property until July 9.

The businesses could continue to operate from the building until the matter returns before the court, the Judge added..

Fire wardens that were put in place by the court last week to monitor the building 24 hours a day are to remain on site until July 9, the Judge added.

The judge also adjourned the balance of the receiver's proceedings where she seeks an order for possession of the entire building.

Mr Singh is opposing that application and argues that her appointment is invalid. The court also heard that Mr Singh hopes to raise funds which he will use to pay off what is owed to the bank.

Mr Singh, it is claimed, borrowed money from Anglo Irish Bank, which changed its name to IBRC after it was acquired by the State. His loans were transferred to Kenmare Property Finance Ltd DAC in 2014.

Kenmare appointed the receiver over Mr Singh's assets, including the property at Mountjoy Square after he allegedly failed to repay a sum of €489,000 which the fund claims is due and owing.

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