A family that took over a vacant council house have turned down alternative accommodation as 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 an empty council house at 21 Casey Court, Kenagh, Co Longford, which they moved into some weeks ago.
The council says the family has no permission to reside at the three-bedroom house and want a High Court injunction requiring the Doyles to leave the property, which they want to offer to another family on its housing list.
The Doyles, who accept they are “in the wrong” in respect of entering the house, say they had “no option”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 matter, which has been before the court on previous occasions, returned before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan yesterday. Paul Gunning, for the council, said the family were offered but were not prepared to move into a four-bedroom house his client had sourced.
Mr Gunning said the 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 a week in rent. A council house would cost the family €90 a week, Mr Gunning added.
Mr Doyle told the court the house that was being offered was not suitable as it had no back garden and is located close to a busy road.
The Doyles, who do not have any legal representation, accept they were wrong to move into the house in Kenagh, but saw “no other way out”. They have been on the housing list for approximately two years.
They also said the council had not helped them. Before the moved into the house they had been living in private accommodation but had to leave after their landlord decided to retain the property for his own use.
Noting the family’s concerns, Mr Gunning said Longford County Council would erect a fence at the property.
Previously the court heard the local authority appreciated the Doyle’s difficult situation and that they had been on the housing list for two years. By moving into the house, the Doyles had “jumped the queue”. The council has more than 1,220 people on its housing list. The council says it does not have a 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 has offered to help find them a place to live in the private rented sector.
Mr Justice Gilligan adjourned the case to later this month.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved