Travellers challenge decision not to proceed with Waterford halting site

Move by elected members a breach of housing obligations and rights legislation, court told

A High Court challenge has been brought against a majority decision by Waterford councillors not to develop Traveller accommodation in the city. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

A High Court challenge has been brought against a majority decision by Waterford councillors not to develop Traveller accommodation in the city. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

A High Court challenge has been brought against a majority decision by Waterford councillors not to develop Traveller accommodation in the city.

Waterford City and County Council’s elected members voted last March by 16 votes to two not to proceed with building a seven-bay halting site at Carrickphierish Road.

Arising out of that decision, two members of the Irish Traveller Community, Ellen Delaney and Mary O’Reilly, who are sisters in law, have brought judicial review proceedings against the council. They claim the decision is flawed and should be set aside.

The court heard one of the applicants is currently living in a camper van, while the other is living in a mobile home, close to the site of the proposed halting site.

No proper reasons for the decision were given, it is claimed. They claim the proposed development was adopted by elected members early last year as part of its Traveller Accommodation Programme.

The elected members, when discussing the development, wrongly relied on erroneous assertions including that the site was provided as part of Covid-19 pandemic assistance to Travellers, they claim.

Overcrowded

The elected members also failed to take into account that a nearby Traveller group housing scheme is currently overcrowded, they claim.

They further claim the decision is invalid because it was made more than six weeks after the council’s chief executive last February recommended in a report that construction of the halting site proceed.

In their action against the council, the applicants, represented by Ciaran Toland SC, instructed by solicitors for the Free Legal Advice Centres, seek an order quashing the elected members’ decision.

Counsel said the decision is in breach of the local authority’s housing obligations and was made without regard to human rights legislation.

They further seek a declaration that the decision is in breach of Traveller Accommodation laws and the 2014 Human Rights and Equality Commission Act.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan, on an ex-parte basis, granted the applicants’ permission to bring the action. He returned the matter to October.