A High Court judge has been told of a housing aid group’s serious concerns for the safety and welfare of some of its elderly tenants because of a build-up of rubbish, food waste and a potential rodent infestation in one of its apartments.
Barrister Andrew Whelan told Mr Justice Mark Sanfey that tenant Patrick Murtagh had refused access to Cabhrú Housing Association, formerly the Catholic Housing Aid Society, and gardaí to check out the risk and state of his apartment.
Mr Whelan, who appeared for Cabhrú, was granted leave for short service on Murtagh, of 88 Ignatius Nordell House, Greenville Street, Dublin 1, seeking his attachment and committal to prison.
He said Mr Murtagh had ignored several High Court orders directing him to grant the association’s staff and gardaí access for inspection purposes, repairs, and removal of waste and detritus.
The judge heard that the registered charity had been providing housing for Dublin citizens over 70 for more than 50 years and had 179 accommodation units citywide. After temporary accommodation had earlier been provided to Mr Murtagh the charity had to spend more than €4,300 for extensive cleaning and repairs before the unit could be returned to its owners.
Audrey Stewart, tenant liaison officer for Cabhru, which is attached to Fr Scully House, Middle Gardiner Street, Dublin, told the court that Mr Murtagh, since taking up residence in Ignatius Nordell House in May 2015 had rejected a Health Service Executive cleaning-care package after refusing access to helpers and cleaners.
She believed there was a need for extensive cleaning and refurbishment and Dublin City Council had agreed to provide Mr Murtagh with temporary accommodation to facilitate the work.
Mr Whelan told the judge there were now serious safety concerns regarding the state of Mr Murtagh’s accommodation with reports of mounting rubbish, smelly food waste and animal and rodent droppings.
“Mr Murtagh has failed to comply with High Court orders granted earlier this month to allow access and there is a health and safety risk to other tenants, all in their 70s,” said Mr Whelan.
The judge, in granting leave to serve short notice of the proposed attachment and committal, said it was an unfortunate case but with regard to the safety of other residents it was clear existing High Court orders directing access should have been obeyed by Mr Murtagh.
He said that considering the age of Mr Murtagh and other residents it would be appropriate if possible if forced entry into his apartment could be avoided and he hoped the matter could be resolved.
Mr Whelan said the charity already had an order directing access but Cabhrú had not yet gone down that route. Existing court orders had been pinned to his door and pushed through his letter box in the presence of a community garda, but there had been no response.