Developer Tom McFeely squares British bankruptcy bid against IRA past and says Priory Hall ‘not a fire trap’
DISGRACED property developer Tom McFeely has spoken about why he applied for bankruptcy in Britain rather than Ireland despite his past as a former IRA man.
The developer behind Priory Hall, a major housing disaster in Dublin, became notorious in 2011 after a judge ordered the evacuation of almost 200 apartments because of fire safety concerns.
Last year, the Irish State agreed to spend €10 million making it habitable again.
In an interview to be broadcast tonight on BBC Northern Ireland, McFeely makes a series of provocative comments arguing that he still doesn’t think the complex is a “shoddy building”.
The former IRA hunger striker also outlines how he squares his unsuccessful application for bankruptcy in Britain with his former militant republicanism past.
He said: “Tell me something, if you were hungry tomorrow, which of the two passports would you eat to put the hunger off you?”
The developer from Dungiven, Co Derry also told BBC’s Spotlight programme that he believes he has been scapegoated over Priory Hall.
Despite the damning opinions of fire chiefs and the courts, McFeely maintains that the complex should not have been evacuated and has refused to apologise to residents.
He said: “We are getting to the sort of the level of the gutter media again, what would I apologise for? I don’t think it’s a shoddy building, you see. I don’t think it is any different than most of the other buildings in Dublin.
“I do not believe that Priory Hall should have been evacuated. Because it is not the fire trap they said it was.”
When asked about his IRA activities, he added: “I am not one to sit down and deny that I wasn’t in the IRA, or that I didn’t do anything, of course I did, to the best of my ability at the time. In hindsight, yes, I could have been better. If I was going to regret it, I wouldn’t have done it.”
McFeely served 12 years of a 26-year sentence in the Maze prison after shooting and wounding an RUC officer during a siege of a house in Co Derry.
Upon his release he became a brick layer and prospered hugely during the Celtic Tiger boom, living a life of luxury in a former ambassador’s residence in the exclusive Dublin 4 area.
It was his home there that made headlines last September after workmen fixing up his former mansion found €200,000 stashed behind a bath panel.
The Dublin authorities are convinced the money was McFeely’s, and have now confiscated it to pay off his bank debts.
McFeely denies the money was his and said: “Don’t ask me, you may ask the people that put it there. All I can tell you is, right, it is not my money.
“Do you think for one moment (if) I left money behind me and I forgot about it, that even if the house was full of five or six or eight or 10 security men, that I wouldn’t have went in and took it out again?”
McFeely told Spotlight that he intends to get back in business as a property developer.
The programme airs tonight on BBC NI Spotlight at 10.35pm