Wednesday 26 October 2016

Residents living in fear after roof is lifted off McFeely apartment block

Reporter Conor Feehan surveys the damage to the apartment
Reporter Conor Feehan surveys the damage to the apartment

Residents of an apartment complex built by shamed developer Tom McFeely are living in fear after the roof was ripped off one unit during Storm Frank.

The entire roof section - consisting of cladding, beams, insulation and plasterboard - of apartment 198 was peeled away from the walls of the kitchen/living room and blown backwards onto the remaining roof of Aras na Cluaine in Clondalkin.

Those living on the top floors are now scared of the possibility that their lives and homes are in danger.


"I have already had trouble with the roof in my apartment which was fixed last summer but the cracks have appeared again where the roof joins the walls in my living room," said Polish national Danuta Szpakowska, who lives on the same floor as the damaged apartment and can see it clearly from her window.

"I now find it very difficult to sleep, especially when the wind is blowing, because I am afraid the same thing could happen to my apartment," she added.

Danuta is renting her one-bedroom home, and says she is caught in a dilemma now.

"Do I stay in a place where I am nervous, or do I go looking for somewhere else and face into the rental market again?" she explained.

"I heard the wind the other night and there was a lot of noise, and then I heard a knock at the door and it was a fireman telling me I had to leave until they could find out if the building was safe.

"I am nervous now. Maybe all the roofs were built the same way."

Across the hallway lives Hirat Kareem and her family.

"I had gone out to the shops and when I came back the fire brigade would not let me in, but I told them I was worried about my children," she told the Herald. "Eventually an engineer said it was safe but I don't feel safe. The kids are all shaking when they hear the wind. How could something like this happen, and could it happen again?"


Dublin Fire Brigade crews raced to the development where the roof was torn from the top-floor unit at the complex built by the former IRA hunger striker's firm, Coalport, in the mid-noughties. There were no injuries in the incident, which happened at an apartment that has been empty for some while.

Met Eireann reported a 105kph gust of wind at Dublin Airport at lunchtime on Wednesday during the storm.

Walking into the hallway of the apartment at first nothing seems unusual apart from a draft and excessive noise from outside.

Open the door to the living and kitchen area, though, and you're left looking at the open sky where the ceiling should be.

The roof was lifted clean off the building and peeled back onto itself. Cladding and wooden beams are also folded back.

The bare wood and thin steel skin that once formed the roof were left twisted and splintered in stark contrast to the neat kitchen units and wooden flooring.

The plasterboard ceiling and rolls of fibreglass insulation that lay above it fell down onto the floor below as the main roof structure was ripped from the building, now lying in sodden heaps after the rain that accompanied Storm Frank saturated them. The Aras na Cluaine complex on Yellow Meadows Road was launched at the end of 2004 with prices for one-bedroom units starting at €215,000 and two-beds from €245,000.


Tom McFeely was a director of Coalport Building Company Ltd between 1997 and 2012. The company was dissolved just last year.

The development was previously at the centre of fire safety fears in 2011, with the High Court ordering an evacuation if additional safety works were not carried out.

Dublin City Council (DCC) had sought the prohibition of the occupation of the complex pending the installation of fire detection and alarm systems in some areas and emergency lighting, signage and fire do or assemblies in others.

The following month, the development's management company posted on its website that the required works had been carried out, the apartments had passed a DCC fire inspection and "no evacuation is necessary".

The management company that run the complex were approached for comment but none was forthcoming.

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