Tuesday 12 December 2017

Inspectors raise fire safety concerns at homeless hostel

Volunteers and supporters of Bolt Hostel, formerly known as Bolton House.
Volunteers and supporters of Bolt Hostel, formerly known as Bolton House.
A fire inspector speaks to volunteers about the condition of the builiding

Inspectors have raised a number of fire safety concerns about a vacant hostel that has been reclaimed by housing activists.

The building, formerly known as Bolton House, was run as a hostel to house homeless people by Dublin City Council before it was closed in 2011.

Last month, members of the Irish Housing Network (IHN) took it over and began refurbishment works before opening it as Bolt Hostel.

However, on Tuesday the Council took an injunction against IHN and the High Court ordered an inspection of the premises by the City Architects Division, the Dublin Fire Brigade and Public Lighting Services.


The High Court also granted an order against Seamus Farrell and Aisling Hedderman, two members of the group, from carrying out any further works on the building.

The inspection took an hour and a half to complete and IHN spokesperson John Rooney said the inspectors had a number of concerns.

"The basement of this building has no fire protection in it, so that's the main issue," he told the Herald.

Fire safety work also needs to be carried out on a number of the doors, but doing so would breach the court order.

"We've been told to put hinges on doors that don't close automatically but if we do it, we'll be breaching the court order so we're stuck between a rock and a hard place," he said.

A Dublin City Council spokeswoman said she could not comment on the matter due to the ongoing legal proceedings.

Lending their support to the group yesterday were Cllr John Lyons and Cllr Gary Gannon.

"I think the council needs to work with them to bring the place up to the appropriate standards and recognise it officially as a homeless hostel," Cllr Lyons said, adding that groups like IHN are "well meaning" and "very knowledgeable on the issues".

Cllr Gannon said the Council should "welcome" such initiatives. "I don't think the Council should be threatened by what's happening here - they should welcome it. It's a citizens' response," he said.

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