A COMPANY director has been warned that he faces being jailed for six months and assets of the firm being seized if there are any further breaches of a High Court order banning the use of an underground car park until fire safety regulations are complied with.
At the High Court yesterday, Mr Justice Peter Charleton held that Hugh McGinley of McGinley Construction was in contempt of a High Court injunction, obtained by Dublin City Council last month, prohibiting the use of the car park.
The court heard that more than 25 cars and motorbikes were found in the underground car park of a complex consisting of 73 apartments in blocks of four and five floors, as well as unoccupied retail units and a creche, at 55-58 East Road, Dublin 3.
The injunction was granted after a senior fire prevention officer with Dublin Fire Brigade expressed fears that a fire in the car park posed “a serious and immediate risk to the lives” of the dozens of occupants living in the apartments located above.
The court heard the council had concerns about the basement’s fire alarm system, fire escape routes and fire-fighting equipment.
James Connolly SC, for the council, said proceedings were brought against McGinley Construction Ltd, Lifford, Co Donegal, which owns and constructed the apartment complex, and Mr McGinley.
Mr Connolly said the injunction was to remain until certain measures took place, including works to ensure compliance with fire safety notices, and that certificates of compliance from a registered engineer or architect were furnished to the Fire Authority.
Despite undertakings from Mr McGinley, Mr Connolly said inspections by the council carried out after the injunction was granted revealed that vehicles and rubbish remained stored in the car park.
Mr McGinley told the court that efforts were being made to comply. He said it had been difficult to stop people from using the basement to park their cars, because those who owned apartments at the complex also owned parking spaces in the basement. There were now only two cars in the car park.
One of the owners was on holidays, while efforts were being made to locate the owner of the other car. Mr McGinley also said that efforts were being made to comply with the fire safety notices.
Mr Justice Charleton said Mr McGinley was in contempt of court. The authority of the High Court had to be obeyed, he said, adding that the whole country has suffered due to a “lack of regulation and authority”.
The judge said he had no option other than to make orders jailing Mr McGinley for six months and seizing the firm’s assets.
However, he was placing a stay on those orders until October 11th, when the matter returns before the court, to allow Mr McGinley time to take steps to rectify the situation.
If there was any further breaches, Mr Justice Charleton said the sanctions would be imposed.