Council challenged on Traveller housing refusal
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.