Emergency housing bid dismissed

The High Court has dismissed a challenge by a woman and her five children against Galway County Council’s refusal to provide them with continued emergency accommodation after they turned down a four-bedroom house.

Emergency housing bid dismissed

The claims were dismissed by Ms Justice Miriam O’Regan, who found that the local authority did not breach the family’s constitutional rights or their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) when it decided to stop providing them with emergency accommodation.

The court heard emergency accommodation ended last summer after the family, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, refused the council’s transitional offer of a four-bed house. They turned down the offer because the house is located too far away from Galway city, where a special placement has been provided for one of the children, who requires significant educational and medical supports.

The mother would have to drive 160km a day to accommodate all her children in their schools.

The council said it had made a reasonable offer of accommodation and had taken all the family’s needs into account. The family were made homeless after a tenancy at private rented accommodation in the Galway City area ended early this year.

The family, who are members of the Traveller community, have been on a housing list for several years and were provided with accommodation at a hotel.

Since their emergency accommodation ceased, the family have been living at an undisclosed located for several months. The council said it has prioritised the family, and that the house offered is the only four-bed it has available to it.

In proceedings against the council, the family sought orders including one quashing the refusal to continue providing emergency accommodation. They claimed the decision was irrational and in breach of their constitutional rights and rights under the ECHR. Their housing needs had not been properly assessed, it was claimed. The family also sought to quash a decision by the council, deferring their housing application for a one-year period.

Ms Justice O’Regan said that, in all the circumstances, the decision to withdraw emergency accommodation did not breach the family’s rights. Noting the offer of the four-bed house, the judge said there was a failure to establish that the council’s decision was irrational or unlawful. In addition, the council was entitled to make the deferral.

The judge said the mother had failed to provide the council with information when making an application for housing.

Meanwhile, the mother, who has 89 convictions for minor offences, told the council in 2010 and 2011 that she did not have a conviction for disorderly conduct in a public place in the previous five years, but she did have such a conviction.

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