This case concerns the Metropolitan apartment complex in Kilmainham. It is one of many but this is where, this week, the residents got confirmation of news that they were expecting since January, which is that they could no longer use the underground car park or any of the storage facilities under the complex. The notice came from the fire chief, who had no alternative but to act, as he or she should act in every case where there is a danger and a blatant defect in the building structure, or where some problem is exposed and lives might be at risk if a fire broke out. That is what we presume is behind this notice.
There are 127 apartments and a crèche onsite. Some of the residents to whom I have spoken have suggested there may be other issues but, thus far, the only one that the fire chief has acted on is in regard to the storage space and car parking. It is basically that fire doors and fire stops are missing. We know what happens in the case of an apartment where fire doors do not exist or are left open. Tragically, we saw what happened in New York earlier this year. At that time, the fire chief in Dublin issued a call for people to make sure doors are not left open and are closed in the event of fire. However, if the doors are not there at all, we can imagine the chaos and the tragedies that can occur.
In this case, the apartment dwellers are expected possibly to foot a bill of up to €500,000. Very few apartment complexes would have that set aside in the management company and there are very few residents I know of who would be able to put their hands in their pockets collectively to come up with €500,000 to address this. As has been the case for many of these issues, the call is for the State to step in. It is reckoned that 100,000 apartments of the 170,000 that were built during the Celtic tiger era have major building flaws. The vast majority of those are where builders cut corners, left out fire doors, left out fire stops and exposed future generations to the dangers of fires.
These are not bottom-of-the-market apartments. They are the same as any other apartment in the Kilmainham area, which were selling for nearly €200,000 and are now selling for over €300,000, and I know of other apartment complexes which have been in the media where apartments were sold for €600,000 or €700,000. Yet, a builder, contractor or developer skimped on this vital piece of equipment to protect people's lives.
Because there are so many and it is so widespread, I know the State has looked at this. My colleague Deputy Eoin Ó Broin has written a book on it, which I have read on a number of occasions, Defects: Living With the Legacy of the Celtic Tiger. It is a question of how we address it and how we ensure that people are not living in fear of fire breaking out in their complex. We must ensure that those issues are addressed as quickly as possible and that the State can help them to ensure the cost is not on top of them as it is beyond their capability to pay.