Court hears claims county council not drawing down funds for Traveller accommodation

By Ann O’Loughlin

Clare County Council is not drawing down funds for building Traveller specific accommodation provided by central Government, the High Court has heard.

The claim was made by a lawyer acting for Helen and Bernard McDonagh, who are members of the Irish Traveller Community, who Clare Co Council claims are trespassing on a site earmarked for new social housing units.

The Council, which says it does not have any traveller specific accommodation currently available that it can offer to the family, seeks an injunction against the McDonaghs.

It wants an order requiring them to vacate the site at Ashline, Kilrush Road, in Ennis where the McDonaghs moved their caravans on November 24th last.

The site had previously been used as Traveller accommodation, but had been vacant in recent years following a suspected arson attack.

The Council is taking the action because it plans to build 40 social housing units on the site, which it says at present is a health and safety hazard for the McDonagh family, and has no running water nor sanitation.

Last week the Council was given permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on the McDonagh family.

When the matter returned before Ms Justice Caroline Costello today Niall Buckley Bl for the McDonaghs said his side required time to set their response to the Council’s action in a sworn statement .

The site had been used for many years for Traveller accommodation.

Counsel said his clients also wanted to put in evidence statistics from the Traveller representative Group Pavee Point stating that Clare Co Council had a policy of not drawing down funding assigned to it by central government so the local authority can build traveller specific accommodation in the county.

The Judge said she while there was some urgency to the matter she adjourned the action to January to allow the McDonagh’s reply to the claim.

James Connolly SC for the Council told the court the McDonaghs went on the site after concrete bollards erected blocking access to the site were removed by heavy machinery.

The local authority engaged in talks with the McDonaghs in an effort to resolve the problem. It says it has offered the couple and their children a private rented four bedroom house in Ennis. However the offer was refused.

The court heard the Council was prepared to offer the family one of the social housing units it intends to build on the site.


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