Last-minute bid to prevent family home demolition ‘abuse of process’, council claims

Property, located outside Navan, Co Meath, built without planning permission 15 years ago

A couple’s last-minute legal action aimed at preventing demolition of their large house amounts to an “abuse of process”, Meath County Council has told the High Court.

The 588 sq m property, located at Faughan Hill, outside Bohermeen, Navan, Co Meath, was built without planning permission by plumber Michael, otherwise known as Chris Murray, and his wife Rose, more than 15 years ago.

Following a lengthy legal battle with Meath County Council about the property, the couple agreed in 2020 before the High Court to settle the action, which had alleged they were in contempt of a court order requiring demolition of their home.

As part of the settlement agreement, they undertook to vacate their family home, which would be demolished by September 24th, 2022.


However, shortly before the deadline expired, the couple’s lawyers secured a temporary High Court injunction against the council restraining demolition.

The order was granted and renewed after their lawyer told the court new evidence emerged that may help the couple to retain the house.

When the matter was briefly mentioned before Ms Justice Eileen Roberts, Deirdre Hughes BL, for Meath County Council, said her client was opposing the action and will seek to set aside the injunction.

Her client’s view is that the Murray’s latest action amounts to “an abuse of process” and the council wants the case to be heard and determined by the court as soon as possible.

The Murrays, through their barrister Barra McCabe, said they intend to put new evidence before the courts.

The dispute centres around the purported making of an order under section 47 of the 2000 Planning and Development Act in respect of the lands where the house had been built.

Such orders restrict or sterilise any development on lands.

Before the Murrays acquiring the landholding, the former landowners allegedly agreed with the council that the section 47 order could be made.

This agreement was allegedly agreed between Meath County Council and the former owners of the land where the Murrays’ property was built, and before they acquired the landholding.

The Murrays accept they were “absolutely wrong” to build a house without permission and they sought permission to retain their home.

However, their applications were refused because of the purported existence of the section 47 order.

They claim new evidence arose including information in legal proceedings brought by a relative of the former owners against An Bord Pleanála over a planning permission decision.

The evidence suggests no section 47 order was ever formally entered into for the lands where the Murrays’ house was built.

Mr McCabe said the related proceedings have been heard by the High Court and judgment is awaited.

Arising out of the alleged new evidence, the Murrays brought fresh proceedings last September which, if successful, would result in the 2020 settlement agreement being set aside.

Ms Justice Roberts agreed the matter should be heard within a relatively short period of time and adjourned the case to date later this month.

She continued the injunction granted last September.