Harassed family gets priority for housing

A Roma family who claim they have been subjected to a prolonged and violent neighbourhood campaign of intimidation have won a High Court order quashing Dublin City Council’s refusal to grant them priority for a housing transfer.

Ion Zatreaunu and his four children, all of whom are Irish citizens, along with his wife, Cristina Stavarache, say the lives of some of them have been threatened since they moved to a council house in Greencasle Rd, Coolock, in 2008. For the previous five years, they had lived in Artane and did not experience any problems with neighbours there.

But since moving to Coolock, they have been told on a number of occasions to return to their “own country” because they are “hated here”, the High Court heard.

They have been subjected to a campaign of harassment and intimidation by certain local residents in and around their home, with the perpetrator of the majority of attacks being a neighbour, they said.

They said damage has been caused to their house and car. They also said there have been racially motivated murders reported in the area and Mr Zatreanu believes his family is very vulnerable to a potentially fatal assault at the hands of criminal gangs.

Mr Zatreanu twice unsuccessfully applied to be transferred under the council’s “exceptional social grounds” scheme.

Following a third refusal, he bought High Court proceedings saying no reasons had been given for any of the refusals and seeking to have the decision quashed.

Yesterday, Mr Justice John Hedigan granted the family an order compelling the council to reconsider their application and to afford them safe and suitable alternative housing in an another area pending permanent transfer.

He found the council’s chief welfare officer had adopted the correct approach in initially not giving reasons for the Zatreanu refusal and then giving a brief outline of those reasons.

However, he said, the officer applied too narrow a test in deciding that the violence and harassment were matters for the gardaí and did not fall within the scope of “exceptional grounds” under the priority transfer scheme.

Such “incidents of law and order” are not excluded from the scope of the exceptional grounds scheme, he said. The decision therefore could not stand and he remitted the application back to the council for further consideration.

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