O’Toole presses Executive to help Victoria Square apartment owners

matthew o'toole

SDLP Leader of the Opposition Matthew O’Toole has raised the plight of Victoria Square apartment owners with Finance Minister Caoimhe Archibald.

Residents were forced to leave the apartments in 2019 due safety concerns, but on Wednesday a court ruled they were not entitled to compensation because more than six years had elapsed since the work was completed.

Mr O’Toole, the Finance Committee Chair, said the situation was profoundly unfair and asked the Minister to work with her Executive colleagues to introduce legislation to compensate those impacted.

South Belfast MLA Mr O’Toole said:

“The situation impacting apartment owners at Victoria Square is hugely unfair and my heart goes out to them after what they have gone through over the past few years. These people were forced out of their homes with no notice and have thus far received zero compensation, which has left the lives of many affected in limbo as they fight to see this situation resolved.

“I understand the limitations facing the court today, but when you consider that homeowners in England and Wales have 30 years in which to make similar claims after issues arise then it’s clear that people in the North are not receiving the protections they need when it comes to properties like these.

“The judge was clear that a further claim may be possible if the Executive moves to update legislation here and I urged the Finance Minister to work with her fellow Ministers to do so. This ordeal has taken a huge toll on those affected, including a charity, they have been expected to pay a number of continuing charges since these structural defects first appeared and they cannot be expected to swallow this cost. Ministers need to step up to make the necessary changes to give these homeowners the compensation they deserve and the SDLP Opposition will keep making that case until we reach a positive outcome.”

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