herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Longboat developer 'got off lightly compared to McFeely', says brother

Developer Tom McFeely
Developer Tom McFeely

Tom McFeely's brother has claimed that the disgraced developer has tried to "make right" defects identified at the Priory Hall development in north Dublin - but wasn't allowed enough time to do so.

Dessie McFeely also said that builder Bernard McNamara has not been subjected to the same treatment his brother received.

McNamara was the developer behind Longboat Quay - where residents are facing a bill of up to €4m to bring fire safety levels up to standard or face being evacuated.

Mr McNamara, who is involved in a major development on St Stephen's Green, has not made any comment on the controversy or any offer to contribute towards the cost of rectifying the shortcomings.

Victimised

In an interview, Dessie McFeely claimed his brother had been victimised by the media - in part because of his political background.

Before becoming a millionaire property developer, Derry-born Tom McFeely was an IRA hunger striker in the 1980s.

Tom McFeely, whose development company Coalport built Priory Hall, received a three-month jail sentence and €1m fine after the High Court ruled that he had failed to comply with the court's order to remedy the fire safety risks there.

Sentencing was adjourned for six weeks to allow necessary works to be carried out at the development. But Tom McFeely's brother claimed this timeframe was too short.

"Everything Tom McFeely has done may not be right. But he was asked to go back to Priory Hall, which he willingly did. A number of men there were working 12-hour shifts, working as hard as they could," he said.

"There was a time frame put on it of six weeks to do a job that would take a year-and-a-half."

Onslaught

Coalport was eventually placed in receivership, leaving Dublin City Council with a multi-million euro bill to house residents - and Tom McFeely was declared bankrupt in 2012.

Mr McFeely said his brother had been subjected to "a vicious onslaught" and "a public flogging" by politicians and the media. But he said that Mr McNamara had "gotten off lightly" over the Longboat Quay controversy.

Dessie McFeely said the media and politicians had not subjected Mr McNamara to the same treatment his brother received, despite the face that both had left behind similar fire safety issues in major developments.

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