Family refuses to live in private accommodation, court hears

Council takes action over family who moved into vacant house without permission

Frances and John Paul Doyle of Kenagh, Co Longford, outside the High Court. Photograph: Collins Courts

Frances and John Paul Doyle of Kenagh, Co Longford, outside the High Court. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A family-of-seven who moved into a vacant council house without permission have turned down alternative private accommodationas they deem it unsuitable for their needs, the High Court has heard.

John Paul Doyle, his wife Frances and their five children are facing High Court proceedings aimed at removing them from the house at Casey Court, Kenagh, Co Longford, which they moved into some weeks ago.

Longford County Council says the family have no permission to live in the three-bedroom house which, it says, is unsuitable for them.

It is seeking orders requiring them to leave the property so the council can offer it to another family on its housing list.

The Doyles, who have accepted they were “in the wrong” in entering the house, said they had “no option” but to do so given their circumstances and health.

The action came before the court last month and was adjourned in the hope the dispute could be resolved.

The Doyles, who do not have any legal representation, have been on the housing list for approximately two years.

The court previously heard that the family had been living in private accommodation but had to leave after their landlord decided to retain the property for his own use.

When the matter came before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan on Tuesday, Paul Gunning BL, for the council, said the family had been offered, but were not prepared to move into, a four-bedroom house his client had sourced.

Mr Gunning said the four-bedroom house, situated just outside Longford town, was privately-owned.

The council had also raised the ceiling of the rent allowance, which meant the family would only have to pay €42 per week in rent.

A council house would cost the family €90 per week, Mr Gunning said.

Mr Doyle told the court the house being offered was not suitable as it had no back garden and is located close to a busy road.

Noting the family’s concerns, Mr Gunning said the council would erect a fence at the property.

‘Jumped the queue’

Previously the court was told the local authority appreciated the Doyles’s difficult situation but maintained that, by moving into the house, they had “jumped the queue”.

The council said it had more than 1,220 people on its housing list.

The council says it does not have a suitable council house available for the family who had been offered, but refused, emergency accommodation at a hostel.

It says a three-bedroom house is not deemed suitable for a family-of-seven, but that it would help find them a place to live in the private rented sector.

Mr Justice Gilligan adjourned the case to a date later this month.