Shannon resident questions Government’s lack of action on €4m bill for building defects

Eugene O’Byrne at Bru na Sionna
Eugene O’Byrne at Bru na Sionna this week. Photo: Natasha Barton

A FRUSTRATED Shannon homeowner, who faces a substantial fire safety defect bill, feels that the Government has a lot to answer for.

Fresh investigations at the 240-unit Bru na Sionna development have discovered that residents now have to pay €4 million to remedy major fire safety defects, almost twice the amount previously estimated. 

According to 64-year-old Bru na Sionna homeowner, Eugene O’Byrne, the Government has a duty of care for every citizen in this county, but people in Shannon are feeling left behind.

Mr O’Byrne, who is planning to retire in October of this year, is still absorbing the shock he received recently that he, along with up to 240 residents, now faces a combined bill of €4 million.

While some are investors, it is believed that at least half of the Bru na Sionna units are occupied by owners, all whom are required to fork out the fresh cost.

While Eugene understands the need to solve ongoing fire safety issues, he believes that residents shouldn’t be made foot the bill.

“The Government has a duty of care for every citizen in this country who is paying tax and I am one of them,” he told The Clare People. “They should be looking at it. It is about fixing what is wrong now. If any of these blocks go on fire and people lose their lives, what is going to happen then?” Eugene added. 

Defects in the Bru na Sionna estate were discovered by engineers when the developer went into receivership.

Fire marshals have been on-site ever since, at an estimated cost of €18,000 per month.

However, as Eugene sets his sight on retirement, he feels those who live in Bru na Sionna have lost out, due to previous mistakes made.

“I can’t stay on in my job. I’m quite able to do my job but the policy is to retire at 65 and that’s it,” he explained. “I am expecting a bill this year and probably another next year because it’s gone up to €4 million.

“When you build a building, you have to do it in such a way that it is fire resistant and people are safe but, at the time of the boom, for some reason, they didn’t have to adhere to those at all,” said the frustrated Shannon resident.

“That’s where I think the council and the Government have a responsibility.

“I am coming to the end of my working life. There are things I wanted to do. One of the things I was thinking of doing was selling this place. Now I don’t know if I can sell it and, if I do sell it, I probably have to it at a loss. If I don’t sell and I leave it to my kids, is this debt going to follow them?

“Any builder that cut corners and put people’s lives at risk, it doesn’t matter if they close the door behind them, go through the door and get him because he is responsible,” Eugene added.

Early last year, homeowners were told they would have to raise the funds needed for remedial works so that Bru na Sionna would be deemed safe and liveable, a cost that Eugene feels is hurting those who reside in the units.

“The difference between the investor and someone who is owner-occupier is that if you are an investor, you might have three or four apartments, which means you’re generating money. I’m not generating money, I’m just living here but I am still getting a bill. No bank will turn around and give you money to buy one of these apartments,” he said.

According to the Shannon homeowner, work has already begun, including lighting in the stairwells and overhead lighting at the fire exits.

However, as the demand to satisfy the necessary measures to correct outstanding fire safety concerns continues, residents fear a further increase in such costs. 

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