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Bailiffs evict Castleknock pensioners ahead of court hearing

The Coynes have never failed to pay rent – but are facing eviction today.

Outside the Four Courts today ahead of their contempt of court hearing.
Outside the Four Courts today ahead of their contempt of court hearing.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Updated 11.55pm

MARTIN AND VIOLET Coyne were due to appear in court this morning, facing a choice between homelessness and jail but bailiffs appeared at their home this morning to evict them.

The Castleknock-based couple is embroiled in a court battle to stay in a property that has been their home for the past 15 years.

The house in which Martin (73) and Violet (63) have lived since 1999 is set to be repossessed by a receiver for ACC Bank. The eviction order came about after the owner of the property defaulted on the mortgage.

Bailiffs arrived at 7.30am today “without any notice”, according to the Anti-Austerity Alliance which is currently working with the Coynes on finding a solution.

Ahead of this morning’s hearing, the couple were “locked out of the house” and “bailiffs refused to allow them to get clothes or access personal belongings”.

A number of neighbours tried to help them, as did local TD Ruth Coppinger.

“This is a disgrace that a couple of pensioners have bailiffs arrive on their doorstep, unannounced, at 7.30am on the morning of their court case. This case highlights the extent of the housing crisis in Ireland 2014,” she said.

“Evictions by banks and receivers should be outlawed and a housing emergency declared. There is still no tangible plan by government to build the thousands of social and affordable homes needed,  despite Joan Burton saying it’s her top priority.”

Today’s case

The family have not yet been approved for legal aid. “The Legal Aid Board said they can’t represent me today,” Martin told TheJournal.ie, explaining that he still needs to be assessed.

He will be representing himself in court but hopes the judge will push back the case and “give another month to sort out representation”.

However, he is expecting “the worst” outcome which would mean either face jail time for failing to vacate the property, as per the court order, or end up homeless.

The Coynes have tried to find alternative accommodation but many landlords renting in the Dublin area will no longer take tenants on rent allowance.

The couple is entitled to about €450 per month allowance but the “cheapest rent” is about €1,400 for suitable alternatives. They have also been on the waiting list with Fingal County Council for the past four years but a residence may not be available for another three to four years.

“We went to the Council housing department, but the best they can offer is a hostel or a hotel. I’m too old for that,” adds Martin.

The Coynes never failed to pay the rent but the landlord was not paying the mortgage to his lender.

“It seems that if you’re an ordinary family facing losing your home, you have trouble accessing legal representation — not a problem for the bank or receiver, of course,” added Coppinger.

Coppinger called on the government to outlaw evictions by banks and received while there is still no “tangible plan…to build the thousands of social and affordable homes needed”.

A protest is being held to support the Coynes at the Four Courts this afternoon.

First published 6.30am

Read: Pensioners could face jail over housing eviction

More: Homeless pensioner: ‘I want to live the rest of my life with some dignity’

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