A MAJORITY of 550 north Dublin homeowners suing over damage to their houses have accepted the creation of a €25.5 million trust fund to carry out repairs to the affected properties.
The Commercial Court was told yesterday that of the 550 householders, 498 or 90.5 per cent had agreed to the formation of the fund; 33 opposed it and 19 did not indicate a preference.
The formation of the trust fund depended on the agreement of 85 per cent of householders.
Brian O’Moore, for Menolly Homes, said the result “represented a powerful level of acceptance of the scheme by the homeowners concerned”.
Those votes must translate into formal acceptances on or before February 11th, after which the establishment of the trust fund could be put in place.
“It’s not the end of the case. It is, we believe, the beginning of the end of the case,” Mr O’Moore said.
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said he proposed to accede to the request for the acceptance of the fund and marked the case for mention on February 15th. After this date, the fund can be established and the court can dispose final orders in the case, one of the longest in Irish courts history.
Affected residents had mixed reactions following the hearing. While some felt that the offer was as good as they were likely to get, others expressed anger at the outcome.
“I am gutted, to be honest,” said Helen Manning, who lives in the Drynam Crescent estate and has thus far abstained from voting.
“I was hoping it would be close to 85 per cent but not quite there and that there would have been room for the word ‘guarantee’ to be put into .”
Referring to thousands of homeowners in other estates not built by Menolly who have experienced similar problems, Ms Manning said: “We have set a precedent which is not going to help the people who are coming behind us in any way, shape or form.”
She said the developer behind Menolly Homes, Séamus Ross, “has continued to build his empire while behind him the foundations of that empire are crumbling.”
John Dunne, who has lived in the Drynam Hall estate since 2006, said the outcome was probably the best the homeowners could hope for in the circumstances.
“We just have to sign the deal now and hope that he’ll fix the houses, there’s still no guarantee . . . All I’m concerned about is a guarantee that my house is going to be repaired, that it’s safe for me and safe for my children. At the moment it’s not.”
Siobhán Purcell, who also lives in Drynam Hall, said it was “another victory for the big boys that run this country”.
She added: “I think we’ve been really hard done by. They put an unfair proposal together and we’ve been bullied into accepting it.”
Residents who attempted to speak to Mr Ross after the hearing said the developer ignored them.
The case arose from a dispute between housing firm Menolly Homes, now a client of the National Asset Management Agency, and Irish Asphalt, part of the Lagan group.
Menolly blamed structural defects in houses in four Dublin estates on the presence of the mineral pyrite – which swells when it comes into contact with water – in the foundations. However, Irish Asphalt, which supplied the infill, denied this, blaming faulty construction for the defects.
The companies reached a settlement through mediation in November without admission of liability, resulting in the proposed fund. Under the terms, homeowners will get as much as €3,000 for new floor coverings, €3,000 for legal costs, €2,000 for alternative accommodation while work is going on and €2,000 compensation for inconvenience.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Menolly residents to agree €25m fund