Traveller family given go-ahead to mount legal challenge over caravan loan

A Traveller family has been given permission by the High Court to challenge a local authority decision over their application for a loan to buy a caravan.

Traveller family given go-ahead to mount legal challenge over caravan loan

By Ann O'Loughlin

A Traveller family has been given permission by the High Court to challenge a local authority decision over their application for a loan to buy a caravan.

John and Tammy Stokes have three children aged between three months and four years and are living in portacabin in a bay on a halting site in Clondalkin, Dublin.

They want to avail of a government-supported scheme providing loans to Travellers to buy new caravans.

Their barrister, Siobhan Phelan SC, told the court they applied for a loan to South Dublin Council under the scheme.

Last Feburary, the Council wrote to them saying that "systems are not in place" and they were not processing loans on the advice of the local authority's head of finance.

Under the 1998 Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act, councils are enabled to operate a loan scheme. The power is however one where a council "may" operate the scheme in accordance with terms laid down by the housing minister, Counsel said.

While a number of local authorities did not operate the scheme at all, South Dublin Council had one in place and it was the Stokes's case that the reason given for not doing so was not reasonable, Ms Phelan said.

As a result of not getting the loan, an opportunity for the Stokes to buy a mobile home is no longer on offer, she said.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan granted leave to seek judicial review and, given the urgency of the matter, said the case could come back to court next week.

The application was made on an ex-parte (one-side only represented) basis.

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