Sunday 23 September 2018

Mum and son left homeless as fire-risk flats are evacuated

Dean Donovan and his mother Lorraine and Damaris Dickenson, residents of 3 Kellys Row
Dean Donovan and his mother Lorraine and Damaris Dickenson, residents of 3 Kellys Row

A MOTHER and son say they will be left homeless after Dublin City Council sought a court order evacuating residents from flats in a building due to fire-safety concerns.

The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, granted an application allowing the council to serve short notice of the proceedings on Frank Chatham and Joseph Simpson, owners of the property at 3 Kelly's Row, Dublin 1, and including 20 Dorset Street.

It is a four-storey building accessed via Kelly's Row with a retail outlet on the ground floor of 20 Dorset Street, which is not affected by the council's application.

The judge said the matter was urgent and returned it for court today.

However, Lorraine Donovan (36) and her 18-year-old son Dean say they will be left on the street. The devastated single mother says she was woken to the sound of the "fire brigade knocking in the door" yesterday.

"We all had a note pinned on the door telling us where to go to get accommodation," she said, "but everywhere we go we are told they are full and can't take us.

"All the hotels we try say they are full, and we have no money for another deposit. What are we supposed to do?"

Ms Donovan said she will stay in the property if she cannot find alternative accommodation. But she claims she has been told that she will be "removed" if she hasn't vacated the premises by 11am today.

"I'm terrified. Where will me and my son go? What will we do with our stuff? There is a pregnant woman with four children living here what about them?

"I have been down the Parkgate Street every day looking to go on the homeless list but have had no luck there."

Dean says he is worried about his mum and he fears what will happen if the family are forced out on the street.

"All my stuff is in my room. What am I supposed to do with it - literally everything I own is there," he said.

Romanian national Luta Budica said he cannot find anywhere for himself and his family.

"We have no money and no one can take us. Maria has four children and one on the way. We have even tried for a place to live in Cork."

Fire brigade officers dealt with three incidents at the building since October 2014 and a fire-safety notice took effect last March prohibiting use of the premises for residential/sleeping accommodation until specified measures have been put in place.


The electricity was disconnected earlier this month and the only access to and escape from the flats is via a single staircase which is in "an unsafe condition", Thomas Daly of Dublin Fire Brigade's fire prevention section said in an affidavit.

Mr Daly said when he inspected the building on May 11 there was "no evidence of any fire-safety measures at the building".

He considered the risk to persons in the event of a fire "so serious" that use of the building should be immediately prohibited until measures outlined in the fire-safety notice were taken "to reduce the risk to a reasonable level".

The owners of the property, Mr Chatham, of Arch Villas, Greystones, Co Wicklow, and Mr Simpson, of Tara Green, Ballymoney, Co Wexford, were served with a fire-safety notice on March 27 last, Mr Daly said.

Mr Simpson had written on May 1 that the tenants were in the process of being moved from the premises, he said.

He also alleged 95pc of the items in the fire-safety notice had been covered in renovations of 2007, outstanding issues were being rectified, and the fire brigade would be kept up to date, Mr Daly said.

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