Council chal­lenged on Trav­eller hous­ing re­fusal

Irish Examiner - - News - Aod­han O Fao­lain

A High Court chal­lenge has been launched against Done­gal County Council’s de­ci­sion to de­fer of­fer­ing hous­ing sup­port to a Trav­eller fam­ily of seven liv­ing in a car­a­van with­out ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing run­ning wa­ter.

The ac­tion has been brought on be­half of Brian and Eileen Ward, and their five chil­dren who are mem­bers of the Ir­ish Travel- com­mu­nity. They are cur­rently liv­ing in a car­a­van at Shore Front, Bun­do­ran, Co Done­gal.

The fam­ily, sup­ported by the Child and Fam­ily Agency, which voiced con­cerns over their liv­ing con­di­tions, ap­plied to the council for so­cial hous­ing sup­port.

The Wards, who have two chil­dren with med­i­cal needs, were deemed by the council to be “an un­ac­cept­able risk of an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour” and the of­fer of hous­ing was de­ferred.

The fam­ily was in­formed last March that they could make a fresh ap­pli­ca­tion in 12 months, but the Wards say the council in­formed them it would be five years be­fore it would be in a po­si­tion to of­fer them hous­ing.

The fam­ily’s lawyers ar­gue that the council has failed to en­gage mean­ing­fully with the Wards be­fore ar­riv­ing at its de­ci­sion.

They also claim the decil­ing sion was dis­pro­por­tion­ate and made with­out rel­e­vant con­sid­er­a­tions.

At the High Court yes­ter­day, the fam­ily’s bar­ris­ter Mark Lynam, in­structed by solic­i­tors for the Ir­ish Hu­man Rights and Equal­ity Com­mis­sion, said the council’s de­ci­sion was taken with­out any in­put from the Wards who had been un­aware that the process was even tak­ing place.

Mr Lynam said the council had made its de­ci­sion based on the Wards’ hous­ing file rather than put­ting its con­cerns to the fam­ily for their com­ment.

The Wards claim they should have been af­forded a hear­ing and that up-to-date in­for­ma­tion should have been sought.

Per­mis­sion to bring the chal­lenge was granted, on an ex parte ba­sis, by Mr Jus­tice Richard Humphreys.

The mat­ter is due back be­fore the courts shortly.

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