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Family ordered to leave vacant council house they moved into without permission

The family moved into the house some weeks ago and changed the locks.

THE HIGH COURT has made orders directing a family to leave a vacant council house they had moved into without permission.

Longford County Council secured orders against John Paul Doyle, his wife Frances and their children in respect of a three bedroom house at Casey Court, Kenagh, county Longford which they moved into and changed the locks some weeks ago.

The court made the orders after being informed the family were not accepting alternative accommodation sourced just outside Longford. The couple said there is no way they will take the four bedroom house offered to them.

The Doyle say the house is unsuitable for the couple who have six children as it had no back garden and is located close to a busy road. They also had concerns about fumes from a nearby garage.

‘Treated differently’

The council, who had made arrangements for a fence to put around the alternative accommodation, said they had “bent over backwards” and “can do no more” to help the Doyles.

Paul Gunning Bl for the Council said under housing guidelines they could not offer the house in Kenagh to the Doyles. Gunning also rejected claims made in Court by Doyle the family were being treated differently because they are members of the Traveller Community.

At the High Court on today Justice Paul Gilligan, who described the situation as unfortunate, said he had no alternative but to apply the law and make an order compelling the family to leave the house in Kenagh they accept they have no right to occupy.

The Doyles, the judge said had already acknowledged in a letter submitted to the court that they had no right to be in the house in Kenagh. The Judge having listened to the Doyles concerns urged them to take some time to reconsider the council’s offer of alternative accommodation and adjourned the case for an hour.

‘A mother knows best’

When the case resumed the Doyles, who said they had nowhere to go, told the judge they had not changed their minds.

Mrs Doyle said that house was not safe for her children, and that “a mother knows best.”. Mr Doyle said he was prepared to go to prison if it meant that his family would get housed by the Council.

The judge put a stay of eight weeks on his order, and expressed the hope that some arrangement could be reached between the parties in relation to finding accommodation from the Doyles.

Doyle, who said he believes he was being badly treated because his family are Travellers, indicated he may appeal the order. He said he appreciated the judge had a job to do. “It’s not you”, he told the Judge “it’s this country.”

The Doyles, who do not have any legal representation, have been on the housing list for approximately two years. The court heard they would remain on the list even if they took up the offer of the alternative accommodation.

Emergency accommodation

The court previously heard, before the family moved into the house, they were living in private accommodation but had to leave after their landlord decided to retain the property for his own use.

Gunning told the court as well as sourcing the house the Council had also raised the ceiling of the rent allowance which meant the family would only have to pay €42 per week in rent. A council house would cost the family €90 per week, he added

The Council says it does not have a suitable council house available for the family who had been offered, but refused, emergency accommodation at a hostel.

The house in Kenagh is not suitable for their needs, and the Council, which has more than 1200 people on its housing list, want to offer it to another family seeking local authority housing.

Aodhan O Faolain
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