Landlord welcomes High Court quashing of ruling over students’ Covid house parties

Residents had taken legal action over noise pollution at landlord’s properties near UCC

A landlord has welcomed a High Court order quashing a ruling by a district court judge which held him responsible for noise pollution emanating from students holding lockdown parties at two of his properties near University College Cork.

Fachtna O'Reilly, of Birchley, Model Farm Road, Carrigrohane, Cork, had been told by Judge Olann Kelleher last July that he faced a €1,000 fine or 12 months in prison if there was a proven breach of a noise protection order by students holding Covid house parties at two properties owned by him.

Judge Kelleher found it was proven students were partying in two of Mr O'Reilly's properties near UCC until 4am and 5am during lockdown last year after two members of the residents' association for Magazine Road and surrounding areas took Mr O'Reilly to court over the issue.

Judge Kelleher found in favour of Sadie O'Mahony, of Gurtharda, Highfield Avenue, College Road, and Mairéad O'Callaghan, of Lucerne, Connaught Avenue, after they brought private prosecutions against Mr O'Reilly under Section 108 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992.

But Mr O'Reilly challenged Judge Kelleher's ruling and sought a judicial review; and, last month in the High Court, Mr Justice Charles Meenan found in his favour, quashing Judge Kelleher's orders in respect of the prosecutions by both Ms O'Mahony and Ms O'Callaghan.


Mr O'Reilly welcomed the order quashing Judge Kelleher's orders, saying his solicitor Eamonn Murray had argued it was entirely "inappropriate to use the Environmental Protection Agency legislation" in a case such as that brought by the residents.

"The District Court ruling meant, for example, that a property owner in Wexford could be imprisoned if his tenant located in Dublin turns on a stereo in breach of a court order such as was made in this case," said Mr O'Reilly, a retired Cork Institute of Technology lecturer.

He added that he only heard the term “Covid party house” for the first time in court and it was worth noting that his two properties were located in “the university quarter” of the city where over 90 per cent of residents were students, who now number as much as 35,000 people in Cork.

“I strongly disagree with the recent vitriolic criticism of our student population. These energetic young people are the future of our country as were their predecessors who are now our doctors, scientists and lawyers,” he said.