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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Hostel residents left homeless after High Court judge rules 'fire trap' must be shut down

The Crumlin hostel that housed up to 52 residents
The Crumlin hostel that housed up to 52 residents

Twenty-two residents of a hostel described by a judge as a "fire trap" face having to find somewhere else to live after the High Court ordered that it be vacated immediately.

The building at 12-14 Old County Road, Crumlin, came to the attention of the Dublin city fire officer last Friday, the court heard.

Inspections revealed there were no escape routes or fire alarms, along with a number of other safety issues, said Conleth Bradley, for Dublin City Council.

The order requiring that the building no longer be used for residential and multi-occupancy purposes, pending the fire issues being dealt with, applies to owners John and Yvonne McEleney, who, the court heard, could not so far be contacted.

A man from Brazil called 'Alex' appeared to be collecting the money on behalf of someone with the same name as the McEleneys, Mr Bradley said.

Most of the residents also appeared to be from Brazil.

There had been up to 52 residents in the hostel but that number, as of yesterday, appeared to have dropped to 22, although the situation seemed fluid, counsel said.

The layout of the building appeared to be labyrinthine and the fire officer had serious concerns in the event of a fire, Mr Bradley added.

Locked

Pictures provided to the court showed one exit locked from the outside and another blocked by parked cars, he said.

Enquiries had been made with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive about possible alternative accommodation for the people living there, but there was "no accommodation for anybody in Dublin city tonight", counsel said.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan, who described the hostel as a fire trap, said he was concerned about putting more than 20 people out on the street when no alternative accommodation was available to them.

He said he was disposed to granting the council the order it sought, seeking the immediate end to its use for residential purposes, but he wanted the case to come back to court as soon as possible.

He said the order must apply to all people with knowledge of it and it should also be posted on the premises.

The case will come back before the High Court tomorrow.

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