Man agrees before High Court to vacate land needed for runway at Dublin Airport

Richard Joyce said he and his father had enjoyed squatters’ rights over land

The DAA said the land lay next an area which had been designated a licensed Travellers’ halting site. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The DAA said the land lay next an area which had been designated a licensed Travellers’ halting site. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

A man has agreed before the High Court to vacate land next to Dublin Airport which is required to facilitate the construction of the new north runway.

Richard Joyce claimed he and his father have enjoyed adverse possession, or squatters’ rights, over the land which was next to what the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) said had once been designated as a licensed Travellers’ halting site.

Mr Joyce claimed he and his family had been living at the property at Collinstown Park, Forrest Road, Swords, Co Dublin, for 16 years.

He had opposed an application by the DAA to have him removed and also put in a counterclaim saying he was entitled to adverse possession.

On Tuesday, Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds was told there had been agreement between the parties and the case would not be troubling the court.

An agreed order was handed into court in which Mr Joyce acknowledged he was not entitled to any beneficial interest in the land, will vacate it by January 31st next, and remove all his belongings. The case was struck out along with his counterclaim.

Mr Joyce, who was in court, was asked by the judge if he understood that if he or any of his servants or agents went on the land after January 31st, they would be trespassers.

He said he did.

In its claim, the DAA said the Minister for Transport and Tourism had granted a licence in 1988 to allow the local authority to build a Travellers’ halt at Collinstown. The Minister was the ultimate authority over the airport lands at the time because the DAA (previously Aer Rianta) was a semi-State body,

That licence was to last until 2007 after which it was extended on a year-to-year basis.

At some time, the DAA says, certain people entered the land and extended the halting site onto land that was not licensed.

In 2017, Fingal County Council wrote to members of the McAleer family, who were on the extended unlicensed land, requiring them to vacate the land. The DAA says it was never brought to its attention Mr Joyce was residing on the extended lands.

Following legal action, the McAleers left the site. The DAA said it was only in October 2019 that Mr Joyce said he had been living on the same land as the McAleers for 15 years. He had said he was willing to consider any suitable offer of alternative accommodation and compensation, the DAA said.

The DAA brought proceedings against him seeking possession saying he had offered no evidence of being in continuous occupation of the land.

Mr Joyce counterclaimed saying he had been in adverse possession because he and his father, who he said was there since 2004, had cleared and levelled the site to make it suitable for a caravan. He said they laid concrete, gravel and paving on the land, also used for storage of a large number of items including vehicles, had fenced the property and put locks on it.

He sought a declaration he was entitled to adverse possession by virtue of continuous occupation of more than 12 years.

Ms Justice Reynolds congratulated the parties on reaching an agreement.