Church operated venue closed over fire safety concerns

Dundalk District Court was given an assurance last week that a premises being operated by a local church which includes a school, a place of worship and a coffee shop, would close that afternoon following a prosecution over fire safety concerns.

Dundalk District Court was given an assurance last week that a premises being operated by a local church which includes a school, a place of worship and a coffee shop, would close that afternoon following a prosecution over fire safety concerns.

Judge Flann Brennan was told the premises would close at 3pm and would not reopen until it meets the approval of the fire safety officer. However, the solicitor for Louth Local Authorities argued at a recent sitting of the court that the premises had continued to operate despite the Judge’s comments last week.

Dundalk Town Council had summonsed the landlords of Units One and Two, at the North Link Retail Park - Raymond Cumiskey of Little Road, Dromiskin and Kenneth Cumiskey of The Meadows, Rock Road, Blackrock and the tenant Hassan Boyle, trading as Grace Fellowship Family Church, under planning enforcement and building control regulations.

The case was part heard the previous Thursday and was put back until Tuesday last as the tenant’s solicitor was unable to attend the original hearing which primarily focused on a closure order which had been served in June.

At the time, in adjourning the case Judge Flann Brennan had said the premises should not be used in the interim saying “I would be very concerned. If there’s a notice served – it should be complied with.

Last Tuesday, the tenant’s solicitor said his clients are a religious fraternity who are well established in Dundalk.

He asked for an adjournment until this coming Thursday (December 20th) as he said significant work was being carried out under professional supervision through both voluntary labour and people who will be paid in due course.

Fire officer Philip O’Brien said the tenants had been given an opportunity to appeal the closure notice when it was served but had not done so.

He said there were nine areas of specific concern – including the inadequacy of existing fire exits and structural fire separation and the separation between the 52 pupil school and an area retained for furniture storage by the landlord.

The witness accepted that improvement work has been carried out in relation to a number of issues, however, he added that in his view, “people were put at unnecessary risk between June and now”.

The tenant’s solicitor told the court that the premises would not reopen until the closure order is lifted.

In adjourning the case until Thursday, Judge Flann Brennan said he wanted dialogue and the parties to meet with the fire officer and for his concerns to be addressed as he said fire safety is not about one particular item on a list.