Former church attendant ordered to vacate charity’s apartment

Court told Derek O’Shaughnessy would be homeless and on the streets within a week

Derek O’Shaughnessy, the former curate’s attendant at St Ann’s Church of Ireland on Dawson Street, Dublin, leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Courts Collins

Derek O’Shaughnessy, the former curate’s attendant at St Ann’s Church of Ireland on Dawson Street, Dublin, leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Courts Collins

 

The former verger of a 300-year-old Dublin Church has been seven days to quit his rented Ballsbridge apartment owned by the charity Protestant Aid.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane affirmed a decision of the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) terminating a tenancy between Derek O’Shaughnessy and Strand Trust Limited, described in the Circuit Civil Court as an agent of Protestant Aid.

The judge directed that Mr O’Shaughnessy quit the Church-owned property in Pembroke Gardens, Ballsbridge, within seven days and gave Strand Trust judgment against O’Shaughnessy for just short of €16,000 he owed for rent arrears.

Barrister Una Cassidy, counsel for the board, told the court Mr O’Shaughnessy had unsuccessfully appealed the decision of the tenancies board to a specially set up tribunal and had further failed in a High Court challenge to the legality of the tribunal’s refusal.

Solicitor John Gerard Cullen, who appeared for O’Shaughnessy, said the High Court decision was currently appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. He asked Judge Linnane to adjourn the PRTB’s application for possession and judgment and grant Mr O’Shaughnessy legal aid.

Mr O’Shaughnessy, the former curate’s attendant at St Ann’s Church of Ireland on Dawson Street, Dublin, earlier failed in a claim to the Employment Appeals Tribunal for compensation for unfair dismissal against the select vestry of St Ann’s.

He appealed the EAT’s dismissal of his claim to the Circuit Civil Court in February 2013 when his counsel, Suzanne Boylan, told Judge Linnane his unfair dismissal claim had been settled for an undisclosed sum. It was later learned to be for a year’s salary of €17,500 which was half the maximum that could have been awarded to him.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal had accepted that St Ann’s was struggling to survive and that it had proved necessary to reduce staff numbers. The church had relied on its 30-plus parishioners, the public and tourism for income and had decided to merge the responsibilities of sexton and verger.

Mr O’Shaughnessy told the judge at the time that he was looking for “a Christian settlement” but up until then nothing Christian-like had been proffered.

For his 2013 court appeal Mr O’Shaughnessy had subpoenaed the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Rev Dr Michael Jackson, to attend as a witness. The Archbishop on the day had been attending an international gathering of bishops in Rome and was not in court.

Mr Cullen told the court Mr O’Shaughnessy was indigent, suffered with mental and physical ailments and, if the court granted the orders, would be homeless and on the streets within a week.

Judge Linnane said the PRTB had made its determination in April last year and since then rent arrears had increased to almost €16,000.

Ordering Mr O’Shaughnessy to vacate the property within seven days, she said the landlord was a registered charity with responsibilities in relation to administering its property. She awarded legal costs against Mr O’Shaughnessy.

Mr Cullen said he could not advise Mr O’Shaughnessy to go on to the streets and he could face criminal legal proceedings if he did not obey the court order to vacate.