Belfast construction firm to carry out fire protection work at Obel Tower

Credit: UTV 
Obel Tower Belfast skyline 
Northern Ireland's tallest residential building
Obel Tower in Belfast is Ireland's tallest residential building

Legal action over alleged fire protection defects at Ireland’s tallest residential building has been settled, the High Court heard today.

Counsel for the owners of Obel Tower in Belfast announced a confidential resolution in the lawsuit against construction firm O’Hare and McGovern.

The company has already agreed to carry out all necessary remedial work to cladding at the city centre high-rise development.

Any damages to be paid out as part of the case will now be assessed at a later date. 

Completed in 2011 at a cost of £60m, Obel Tower includes 233 apartments and office accommodation.

It was later repossessed and eventually sold due to the bank debts of the developer, Donegall Quay Ltd.

Following the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in London where 72 people died, the government required external wall safety (EWS1) surveys at high-rise buildings.

Issues were identified during those checks at the Obel complex in 2021.

Proceedings brought against O’Hare & McGovern by original developer Donegall Quay Ltd (in liquidation), Obel Management Ltd and Obel Ground Ltd alleged that urgent work was required to repair “life threatening” fire protection defects at the building.

At one stage fears were raised that all apartments would have to be vacated if the work was not carried out before insurance cover was originally due to expire at the end of last year.

Concerns eased in January when the court heard O’Hare & McGovern will fix any defects identified and agreed by both sides’ professional experts.

Despite that pledge, damages were sought for the costs of security at Obel Tower and the potential requirement for residents to leave their apartments while work is being carried out.

A statement of claim was lodged to set out the alleged losses. But in court today the plaintiffs’ barrister Anna Rowan, instructed by James Turner of O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors, announced a confidential settlement has been reached.

“They provide an overarching resolution of the entire action,” she confirmed.

With no final figure included in the agreed terms, Mr Justice Humphreys was informed that he may yet have to make a determination if there is any dispute over the sum to be paid out.

Staying the action, the judge also ordered the defendant to pay the plaintiff’s costs.

He told the parties: “Thank you for your efforts in concluding that, I’m sure it wasn’t a straight forward exercise.”

Meanwhile, O’Hare & McGovern is now set to proceed with a separate action against some of the subcontractors and suppliers for the Obel development. 

At today’s hearing the firm’s barrister, David Dunlop KC, said: “We will have the third party proceedings brought into court for directions once we have received the defences.”

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