Priory Hall (24/01/2012)

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Environment

I echo the point that this is a modern disaster. It is an absolute tragedy for the families concerned. They have been evacuees from their homes for more than 100 days now. As we sit here not a single thing is being done to rectify those homes. Work is not being undertaken and they are no nearer to returning to another home. They do not want to return to the home they had because it could not be called a home.

I would like the Minister to address a few issues. Previously when the residents asked the Minister to meet them, he said he could not, that the issue is before the courts, it is not for him to intervene and that the matter is sub judice. That is not good enough.

I agree that Mr. McFeely, the developer, is responsible for this but he is a product of the lack of regulation that successive Governments allowed to prevail. Dublin City Council did not enforce the regulation, even though it was inadequate, but the little bit of protection that was in place was not enforced, therefore it has a responsibility, but more than that there was a system of self-certification in place and in that sense the Government and the Minister have a responsibility.

When the court adjudicates on this case, the scenario for these homeowners whereby their rent is being paid by Dublin City Council, will cease. They cannot afford to pay a mortgage for a worthless home and rent for somewhere else. It is impossible. Somebody must step in. We effectively own the banks. The Minister should step in and demand that these tenants be released from their mortgage commitments given that they cannot enjoy the benefit of their homes. There has been a breakdown in trust with the local authority and there is no dialogue with it. It is up to the Minister to step in and examine if some form of mediation can take place. Moving those families back to the complex and restoring those units is not a runner, despite what Dublin City Council says, but dialogue needs to take place and people need to discuss the matter.

I ask the Minister to comment on, and intervene to address a matter reported in the newspapers whereby the management company is being pursued over outstanding VAT payments as a result of the developer defaulting on his payments in that regard. It is disgraceful that the Revenue Commissioners would pursue effectively the residents through their management company because of debts which Mr. McFeely had. That is nonsense. Penalties and late payments have applied and the bill is on the shoulders of the residents. That is not good enough and the Minister has to intervene in that respect as well.

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