A man has told a court that his neighbours say that they can’t help to pay a €63,000 bill he is facing from an ill-fated court case seeking to prevent a Traveller family moving into their area.
At Ennis Circuit Court yesterday, Brendan Maguire told Judge Gerald Keyes that his neighbours — mainly elderly pensioners — have told him that they can’t help out.
The bill arises from a case Mr Maguire and four others, supported by 61 members of the Cullenagh Residents Association, took against North Tipperary County Council seeking to prevent them allocating a home to Charlie and Noreen O’Reilly and their eight children of Cullenagh, Ballina, Co Tipperary.
The residents lost the court action.
In July 2009, the €465,000 home designated for the O’Reillys was set ablaze in an arson attack. The attack was condemned by the residents association at the time. No one has been charged with the crime. The O’Reillys subsequently moved into the refurbished home where they reside today.
The O’Reillys were notice parties in the High Court taken by the residents and they have since secured a decree against Mr Maguire for the €63,360 legal bill.
Mr Maguire told the court that he put his name to the High Court action on the basis of his neighbours signing a letter that each person would be equally liable for costs in the case.
In court yesterday, David McHugh, counsel for the O’Reillys, was seeking to have the monthly installments Mr Maguire is paying to the O’Reillys increased from €40 per month. Mr McHugh said the O’Reillys were last Friday granted a separate instalment order against another resident, David Fitzgerald, for €300 per month.
Mr Maguire told the court he would struggle to pay more than €40 per month. Judge Gerald Keyes said that he would increase the monthly payments by Mr Maguire to the O’Reillys to €70 for a trial period of a number of months.
However, Judge Keyes said that he had great sympathy for Mr Maguire.
“You are being brought to court because other people haven’t honoured the agreement they had with you. If you had an agreement on who would contribute to costs, you are entitled to redress from them.
“It is very unfair of your neighbours to see you coming to court to say that you can’t pay the bill because it is their bill as well. That is the reality of it.
“I do believe that you should go back to them and tell them the situation and ask them to contribute, even if it is to pay part of the €70, and even if is only €4 or €5 each. They can’t have any complaint about that.”
Judge Keyes suggested the neighbours should organise a fundraising event — maybe a coffee morning — to help the pay the legal bill.
“You put yourself on the firing line on the basis that you would be indemnified by your neighbours and it is grossly unfair on you to leave you in that position where you are not indemnified. People who said that they would indemnify you shouldn’t be able to walk away without taking some of the burden.”
Mr Maguire said: “It is very stressful to be honest, judge.”
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