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Court challenge over Waterford Traveller accommodation resolved

A High Court challenge over a decision by Waterford City and County Council's elected members notย to develop Traveller accommodation in the city has been resolved.

The High Court heard on Tuesday that as part of the settlement agreement the local authority's decision is to be set aside.

Last March Waterford City and County Council's elected members voted by 16 votes to two not to go ahead and build a seven-bay halting site at Carrickphierish Road, in Waterford.

Arising out of that decision, two members of the Irish Traveller Community, Ellen Delaney and Mary O'Reilly, who are sisters-in-law, brought judicial review proceedings against the Council.

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The matter was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Charles Meenan, who was told the matter had been resolved and that it had been agreed by the parties that an order could be made quashing the council's decision.

The judge was also informed that the council is to pay the applicant's legal costs.

Unreasonable

When the action first came before the court last June, the High Court heard the one of the applicants is currently living in a camper van, while the other is living in a mobile home, close to the site of the proposed halting site.

No proper reasons for the decision were given, they claimed.

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They also claimed that the proposed development was adopted by the elected members in early 2020 by the council as part of its Traveller Accommodation Programme.

The elected members, when discussing the development, wrongly relied on erroneous assertions including that the site was provided as Covid19 assistance to Travellers, it was also argued.

The elected members had also failed to consider that the nearby Traveller group housing scheme was overcrowded.

They further claimed that the decision is invalid because it was made more than six weeks after the council's chief executive recommended in a February 2021 report that construction of the halting site proceed.

In their action against the council, the applicants, represented by solicitors for FLAC, sought an order quashing the elected member's decision.

They also sought various declarations including that no reasons were given for the decision, which was irrational, unreasonable, and that irrelevant considerations were considered.

They also claimed that the decision breached the local authorities housing obligations, and ignored various human rights legislation.

Response from WTCDP

Waterford Traveller Community Development Project welcomed the news that FLAC Traveller Legal Service, on behalf of Ellen Delaney and Mary Oโ€™Reilly, were successful in their legal bid to quash the decision of Waterford Council.

In a statement issued to the media, the group said: "Ms. Delaney and Ms. Oโ€™Reilly are young mothers who, along with other families at Carrickpherish, continue to live in overcrowded, hazardous, and unacceptable conditions with their children.

"Waterford Councilโ€™s refusal to implement the development, (which was approved by the Council in early 2020 as part of its own legally adopted Traveller Accommodation Plan) was based on erroneous assumptions and faulty reasoning, breaching the Housing Code and human rights laws.

"Notwithstanding the intolerable and dehumanising conditions still endured by the Carrickpherish families, the Council decision of March 15th has far-reaching implications.

"This considerable and avoidable waste of Council money is even more of an own goal than the original decision of the Councillors to vote against their own approved Traveller Accommodation Plan in March, particularly in light of the fact that the development they have tried to veto wonโ€™t cost the Council a red cent, as it will be funded directly by the Department of Housing Local Government and Local Heritage."

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