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File image of planes outside Dublin Airport. Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

DAA adds Fingal council to action seeking vacant possession of land from Traveller families

The land had previously been leased to Fingal County Council to house Traveller families.

THE DAA HAS secured permission to add Fingal County Council to proceedings it has brought against Traveller families living in the exclusion zone around the proposed new North runway.

The DAA has brought proceedings seeking vacant possession of land located in Collinstown, north Dublin, that had previously been leased to Fingal County Council to house Traveller families.

It claims the lands are occupied by several members of the McAleer family, who the DAA claims have no entitlement to be there. It claims it needs the lands vacated as a matter of urgency.

Work on the new runway has been allowed to continue despite the general on construction during the current covid-19 level 5 restrictions, after the government deemed the project as a limited exception.

The family members, who are represented by Quinn & Reynolds Solicitors and by the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) deny any wrongdoing and oppose the DAA’s action

The DAA claims it has no option other than to join the council to proceedings it has brought against those in occupation as the local authority has failed to hand over vacant possession of the site, over three years after the DAA served it with a notice to quit.

The court heard that the council has taken steps to provide alternative housing for Traveller families that remain on the site, and will vigorously oppose any application for orders against it.

The DAA – renamed from the Dublin Airport Authority in 2014 – claims the Minister for Transport, which previously owned the lands, granted a licence in the 1980s allowing the local council use the site as accommodation for Travellers.

The DAA subsequently acquired those lands, and continued the licence to Fingal Co Council up until 2017 when it issued a notice to quit. The lands were required as part of the DDA’s plan to construct a third runway at Dublin Airport.

the DAA claims that vacant possession of the site was not handed over, and it issued proceedings against Fingal Co Council in 2018.

Those proceedings were discontinued to allow the council engage with, and seek alternative accommodation for those living at the halting site.

Arising out of that engagement the DAA claims that while several of the Traveller families have left the site, some others have remained.

As a result, the DAA in 2020 commenced fresh proceedings, where it seeks orders including injunctions, against those who have currently on the site.

In seeking to add the local authority to those proceedings the DAA claims that Fingal Co Council has had an indirect involvement in matters due to its statutory housing obligations to the families involved in the action.

DAA also claims that the council was also invited to join a mediation process aimed at resolving the dispute has taken place, but no resolution has been achieved.

The matter was mentioned before Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds at today’s sitting of the High Court. The Judge said that she was prepared to grant the DAA permission to join the Council.

The matter was adjourned to a date later this month.

The judge also heard concerns raised by the McAleers’ lawyers over an alleged failure by the DAA to provide them with certain documentation, including a copy of the construction contract for the new runway.

This material has been referred to by the DAA in its sworn statements and the defendant’s lawyers would like sight of them, the court heard.

The judge said that any motion relating to that particular issue can be considered when the case returns before the court.

Aodhan O Faolain