TWO brothers have been warned that they could face imprisonment if they fail to remove the caravans they are living in from a Kilmallock housing estate, within a fortnight.
Kilmallock Court heard how one of the brothers, Arthur McDonagh, lives with his wife Pamela and their four children in a caravan outside his father’s house in Riverview estate. The caravan does not have proper toilet facilities or running water.
Limerick County Council has taken court action against Arthur and Martin McDonagh Jnr, and their wives Pamela and Kathleen McDonagh, all of Riverview estate, Kilmallock, for planning breaches in connection with the illegal parking of caravans in the Riverview estate.
The caravans have been parked illegally in a green area “for a considerable number of months”, causing “great distress” for locals.
Kilmallock Court heard that Arthur McDonagh has been offered two houses in the town since last November but has, to date, not accepted either, over what he perceives to be threats to his family’s safety.
Seamus O’Connor, a senior social worker with Limerick County Council, said that last November, Arthur McDonagh was offered a house at Deebert, Kilmallock but had refused it.
Mr O’Connor said a second offer was made to him last month for a three-bedroom house in Riverview estate. The court heard that to date the offer has not been accepted.
Giving evidence under oath, Arthur McDonagh said the reason he did not accept the house at Deebert, Kilmallock was that it was too close to where another family resides. He said there had been a feud between his own family, the McDonaghs, and the other family for a number of years and added that the gardai confirmed that they would like to see the families living apart.
In response, solicitor for Limerick County Council, Will Leahy quoted from a letter sent from the superintendent’s office in Bruff to the local authority. He said the letter outlined that there hadn’t been any reported disputes between the families for a number of years and the gardai “would not be fearful of the families living in close proximity”. Arthur McDonagh said the reason there was no violence was because the families were not living together.
In relation to the most recent house he was offered – number 41, Riverview estate - Arthur McDonagh said the residents did not want him and his family in the house. Handing in a photograph to the court, Mr McDonagh said the house had been spray painted with the lettering “Arthur and family stay out or be burned out.”
Mr McDonagh said there was a petition circulated with names of people who didn’t want the family in the estate.
“Where do I go from here?” Mr McDonagh asked.
Will Leahy put it to Mr McDonagh that when he had refused the house in Deebert he indicated to the council that he really wanted a house in Riverview “but in the meantime you set your sights elsewhere.”
Mr Leahy said that Mr McDonagh had wanted the council to buy him a house “out the county” with an acre of land.
“The house in Riverview wasn’t good enough so you came up with a scheme whereby there was going to be public unrest if you moved into number 41”. Mr Leahy put it to Mr McDonagh that he had approached the secretary of the resident’s association in Riverview saying “I’ve been offered this house, is there any chance you would organise a petition against me.”
Mr Leahy said the woman took the view that he was trying to engineer a way to refuse the house. Mr McDonagh said this was untrue.
Mr Leahy said he had a signed statement from the woman.
Mr Leahy put it to Arthur McDonagh that between June 3 and June 4, prior to the court hearing on June 4, somebody spray painted the house. “Do you not think that is a little bit convenient,” asked Mr Leahy.
Mr McDonagh asked if Mr Leahy was putting it to him that it was something to do with him. “I’m putting it to you that it was a little bit convenient,” said Mr Leahy.Mr McDonagh said he feared the “nasty threat” would come true and he would be burned out of the house if he moved in.
When asked by Judge Larkin why he doesn’t go and seek rented accommodation, Mr McDonagh said “the Travelling community can’t get rented accommodation in this town”.
Judge Mary Larkin ordered that both of the caravans be removed by July 2. The solicitor acting for the McDonaghs, Paul Cagney, said that Arthur McDonagh is willing to take the house at 41 Riverview estate. Mr Cagney said that Martin McDonagh is going to make every effort to find private rented accommodation within the two week period.
Judge Larkin said she will review the case on July 2 and said that if the caravans are not removed by then, she intends on applying the full rigours of the act to include a fine, costs and a possible prison sentence.