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Tuesday 28 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C

Challenge brought over decision not to proceed with Waterford halting site

The council voted against the plans last March.

A HIGH COURT challenge has been brought against a decision by Waterford council’s elected members not to develop Traveller accommodation in the city.

Last March, the council voted by 16 votes to 2 not to go ahead and build a seven-bay halting site at Carrickphierish Road in Waterford.

Arising out of that decision, two members of the Irish Traveller Community Ellen Delaney and Mary O’Reilly, who are sisters in law, have brought judicial review proceedings against the Council.

They claim the decision is flawed and should be set aside.

The court heard that one of the applicants is currently living in a camper van, while the other is living in a mobile home, close to the site of the proposed halting site.

No proper reasons for the decision were given, it is claimed. They claim that the proposed development was adopted by the elected members in early 2020 by the council as part of its Traveller Accommodation Programme.

The elected members, when discussing the development, wrongly relied on erroneous assertions including that the site was provided as Covid-19 assistance to Travellers.

The elected members also failed to take into account that the nearby Traveller group housing scheme is currently overcrowded.

They further claim that the decision is invalid because it was made more than six weeks after the council’s Chief Executive recommended in a February 2021 report that construction of the halting site proceed.

In their action against the council the applicants, represented by Ciaran Toland SC, instructed by solicitors for FLAC, seek and order quashing the elected member’s decision.

They also seek various declarations including that no reasons were given for the decision, which was irrational, unreasonable and that irrelevant considerations were taken into account.

Counsel said that the decision is in breach of the local authorities housing obligations, and without regard to human rights legislation.

They further seek a declaration that the decision is in breach of Traveller Accommodation laws and the 2014 Human Rights and Equality Commission Act.

The matter came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan at the High Court today.
The judge, on an ex-parte basis, granted the applicants permission to bring the action.

The judge made the matter returnable to a date in October.

Aodhan O Faolain