Travellers in Limerick given second court deadline to vacate public road

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Limerick City and County Council has initiated legal action against the families on the road between Clondrinagh and Coonagh

Limerick City and County Council has initiated legal action against the families on the road between Clondrinagh and Coonagh

FOUR Travellers and their families have been given until midday on Sunday to vacate a public road in Limerick where they are living illegally.

Limerick City and County Council has initiated legal action against the women claiming their presence on the road – between Clondrinagh and Coonagh –  is preventing contractors from carrying out work on the Northern Distributor Road.

The road where the caravans are located is to be used to transport more than 400,000 cubic metres of material to and from the construction site.

The local authority secured court orders against thirteen named individuals last month requiring that they and their families leave the road by midday last Sunday.

However, this Wednesday, Pat Quinn BL said four caravans remained – in breach of the order.

He applied for Committal Orders against Bridget Faulkner, Sabrina Christina McDonagh, Mary McDonagh and Bridget McDonagh.

“The purpose of the application is not punitive, it’s primary purpose is coercive,” he said.

Michael McNamara BL, representing the respondents, opposed the application while also applying for a stay to allow an appeal to be lodged.

“They are not holidaying in these caravans. These are their homes,” he told the court adding that the right to a home is guaranteed in the constitution.

Mr McNamara told the court his clients were not legally represented when the orders against them were granted and he questioned the urgency of the council application suggesting it was a “contrived emergency”.

This was rejected by Mr Quinn who said the defendants were legally represented in court at an earlier hearing. He added they were first written to on November 14, last before the court proceedings were initiated.

Judge Tom O’Donnell was told that two of the women – Sabrina Christina McDonagh and Mary McDonagh have been in emergency accomodation for a number of months and that they are staying at a city hotel at night and their caravans by day.

Bridget McDonagh, he said, was also previously provided with hotel accomodatin but “found it too restrictive” and returned to her caravan.

The court heard that Bridget Faulkner has twice refused offers of social housing by Limerick City and County Council.

Mr Quinn previously stated there was a “significant public interest element” to his application as the delay in the road project could cost Limerick City and County Council €10,000 a day.

Having considered the submissions from both sides, Judge O’Donnell noted there was still time available for the women to lodge an appeal.

He said in those circumstances the granting of a Commital Order would be premature.

The judge said he was not willing to grant a full stay on the original order but that he was willing to vary it slightly. He directed that all four women vacate the road by midday on Sunday.

The local authority was given leave to re-enter the matter next week if the order is not complied with.