Boxing coach Pete Taylor is seeking a High Court injunction preventing Wicklow County Council evicting him and Bray Boxing Club from premises it has used for 15 years.
Mr Taylor, father of Olympic and world champion boxer Katie Taylor, claims the council is illegally wrongfully trying to remove him and the club from a facility at the Harbour Shed in Bray.
Represented by Richard Kean SC, Mr Taylor and the club have brought proceedings against the council, which owns the facility.
The council allegedly changed the locks on the premises in June 2018 after three people were shot there. Bobby Messert was killed in the incident and Mr Taylor was injured. Mr Taylor, the club and its members have been out of the facility since.
At the High Court on Friday, Mr Kean said Mr Taylor had in 2005 secured the use of the premises, which had been used as a store shed by the local authority, as a boxing gym. When taken over, the premises lacked basic facilities, he said.
Over the years, the club, which has produced some top boxers including Katie Taylor, enhanced and equipped the facility with the help of a sports capital grant, he said.
In a sworn statement, Mr Taylor said in 2017 the council sought a large increase in the annual rent for the premises, which he thought was unfair given the benefit to the local community.
In June 2018, a violent incident occurred at the premises when a club member was shot and killed, another was injured and he himself was shot in the arm, he said. The court heard Mr Taylor was “the innocent victim of a violent incident”.
A few days later, it is claimed that, without prior warning, the council changed the locks at the premises. It is claimed the council informed the club it proposed to take possession of it and have it cleaned, fixed and restored for use as a sports facility.
Mr Taylor claims the council used that violent incident as a “smokescreen to unlawfully evict” him and the club from the premises.
He says it was always his intention to return and operate the club and the council was not entitled to re-take the property as it had. Despite attempts to resolve matters, the plaintiffs say they have been unable to re-gain entry to the property and several club members have had to make alternative arrangements.
Arising out of the council’s alleged actions Mr Taylor and the club, of which he is a director, sued the council.
Those proceedings are ongoing and are due before the High Court later this month where his clients seeking judgement against the council in default over its alleged failure to file a defence to the claim.
Earlier this month, Mr Taylor said he discovered the council had posted an eviction notice outside the premises giving him and the club 10 days to vacate the premises. By serving the eviction notice, the council is trying to circumvent and interfere with the ongoing legal action, he claims.
Mr Kean said the club would not be able to source an alternative venue to store its equipment, which remains in the premises, during the Level 5 lockdown.
As a result, injunctions were sought preventing the council terminating their legal interests in the club in the absence of a properly obtained court order. The plaintiffs further seek orders allowing them re-enter the premises and declarations the council is prevented from illegally evicting Mr Taylor and the club from the gym.
Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds, following an ex-parte application, granted permission to serve short notice of the injunction application on the council. The matter will return before the court later this month.