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Angry tears as families forced out of McFeely's €330k flats over fire risk

ANGRY families packed up their belongings and moved out of the Priory Hall apartments in Donaghmede today.

Concerns over fire safety forced the High Court to order everyone out by 11am today, giving people just three days to find somewhere else to live.

Fears over safety were so strong that the fire brigade was ordered to stay on site for the weekend until everyone was gone.

Having paid nearly €350,000 for their apartments, owners were still stunned that things had ever come this far.

"There was a meeting with the council on Saturday, but they just took names and numbers. Nobody knew where to go," said Fiona Kurt, a mother of an eight-week-old baby who bought her own apartment for €335,000 with hopes of a happy future.

"I'll have to go to my sister's and sleep on an airbed with my daughter. My husband will have to stay with friends.

"This disaster is splitting families into different places," she added.

All weekend, people packed their belongings and left one-by-one, with Dublin Fire Brigade personnel watching in sympathy.

"It's terrible, whole families with little kids, not knowing what to do," said one fireman.

Paul McSweeney (21) was packing up along with his partner Nikita Kinsella and their four-year-old son Kaylem. Nikita is six months pregnant.

"It's just terrible. We have to wait until the court case at 11am to find out where we are sleeping tonight," said Paul, who was renting in Priory Hall.



Crying

"It's only a few weeks until Christmas. Nikita has been crying all week.

"We can't afford storage for our things so we are asking our families to store stuff for us," he added, watched by Nikita from their apartment above.

On Friday, the High Court ordered the evacuation of the housing complex in Donaghmede because of serious concerns over fire safety.

Some 137 out of 187 apartments that make up the complex are occupied by private owners or tenants.

The apartments were built by Coalport Ltd, of which former IRA hunger striker Tom McFeely (63) is secretary and director.

Today a banner at the end of the Priory Hall complex hung on the railings read: "Mr H Block -- Where Do We Go?"

This morning, Ms Kurt was trying to keep her daughter Dilan warm and fed as she packed their family's belongings into boxes and bags.

Tired and worn out, being put out of her apartment is the last thing she wants or needs.

"The council knew they were taking this court case against the developer, yet they had no contingency plan for the residents. I just find it hard to believe," she told the Herald.

Flyers on the entrance doors by a self storage company advertise their service, at a cost of €40 per week.

"The fire brigade have been here all weekend by court order," Ms Kurt added.

"That makes me believe we have been at risk since we moved in, and while they have been here, Dublin Fire Brigade have been down a unit if a blaze broke out somewhere else."

cfeehan@herald.ie