Couple who occupied council offices moved up housing list

Council says it does not know when it can house couple as there are 8,500 people on list

 South Dublin County Council  told Mr Justice Paul Gilligan it cannot say when it will be able to house Alan Murphy and his partner Kelly Gilsenan (both above), as there are 8,500 people on its housing list. Photograph: Courts Collins

South Dublin County Council told Mr Justice Paul Gilligan it cannot say when it will be able to house Alan Murphy and his partner Kelly Gilsenan (both above), as there are 8,500 people on its housing list. Photograph: Courts Collins

 

A homeless couple who camped out at the offices of South Dublin County Council in protest about their accommodation situation have been moved up the local authority’s housing list, the High Court has heard.

The council told Mr Justice Paul Gilligan it cannot say when it will be able to house Alan Murphy and his partner Kelly Gilsenan, as there are 8,500 people on its housing list.

The council had obtained an injunction against the couple after they, along with several supporters, refused to leave the council’s offices in Tallaght.

They remained there for two days until the court granted the order directing them to leave the premises. The couple later gave an undertaking to the court to comply with the terms of the order.

Priority raised

When the matter came to court on Thursday, Carol O’Farrell BL, for the council, said the couple’s priority on the housing list had been raised as it was now accepted they formed a family. Mr Murphy has a six-year-old child who suffers from asthma.

Counsel said it was not known when they would get housing as there are 8,500 people on the housing list.

While the couple had been co-operating with the council, it was concerned they were not doing enough to help themselves by seeking private accommodation for which they would be entitled to a housing assistance payment, counsel said.

The couple told the court the most recent temporary accommodation they were provided with was “filthy” with “damp walls,” “damp ceiling” and “blood on the sheets”. They asked the court to strike out the injunction but the judge refused.

Undertakings renewed

They both renewed their undertakings to abide by the terms of the injunction.

The judge also suggested they contact an individual, whose name was provided by the council, who could help provide them with private accommodation.

The only other option they had was to wait in hotels and hostels until the council provided them with housing, he said.

There were many thousands of others also waiting to be housed, he added.

Adjourning the case to the end of the month, the judge said he hoped those individuals in court who were advising Mr Murphy and Ms Gilsenan would continue to help them.

The injunction was granted late last month after the court was told the couple refused an offer of temporary emergency accommodation from the local authority because it was not suitable for their needs.

The couple said they ended up sleeping in a tent after they became homeless after they had to leave the private accommodation they had been renting when that property was sold.

They said they were unable to obtain other accommodation.