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Councillor claims 'dud' building certs issued for ex-hunger striker's flats

Apartments built by an ex-IRA hunger striker were issued with "dud" building compliance certificates, claims a Dublin city councillor.

A firm of architects has strongly rejected the claim.

Labour's Sean Kenny was referring to Priory Hall, in Donaghmede, where 16 residents were evacuated before Christmas over fire safety concerns.

The city council tenants had been living in the development for over a year.

The 187-unit scheme was built by Coalport Building Company Ltd, which counts former H-Block hunger striker Tom McFeely (60) as a director.

Council housing manager Peter Ayton stated in a report that a certificate was accepted from the developer's architect "saying that the building is in compliance with the building regulations".

Local authority chiefs bought the 16 social and affordable units from Coalport in 2008.

Cllr Kenny said: "It is my view that the building regulations compliance certificates issued by the Coalport's architect for these apartment units in 2008 are now shown to be duds."

But Oppermann architects, which issued the compliance cert, told the Herald it is "totally incorrect" to say they were duds.

Stephen Oppermann, the managing director, said some of the certs in question were "well over two years old".

He added that the building "needs to be maintained" to ensure continued compliance with the regulations.

"It's up to the management company or building owners to maintain the property to a certain standard," Mr Oppermann added. Dublin City Council had issued Coalport with a notice to comply with fire regulations at Priory Hall.

However, following an inspection by the council in November, it was discovered that the remedial actions required in the notice had not been carried out.

Drastic

The local authority then took the drastic decision of telling its tenants they would have to vacate their homes.

A later report by the council said Coalport stated in writing to Dublin Fire Brigade that they are committed to completing the necessary works. The works are due to be completed in February.

A Coalport spokesman told the Herald in December the company was in talks with Dublin Fire Brigade over the issues.

He said the company had "a fire consultant on board" and it was hoped the problems will be resolved "quite quickly".

Mr McFeely spent 53 days on hunger strike in 1980. The builder is a resident of the upmarket Ailesbury Road district. He served 12 years of a 26-year sentence in the Maze prison for a post office robbery and shooting.

A judge described him in 1977 as a "dangerous young man".

hnews@herald.ie