Friday 9 December 2016

Sinn Fein TD and his wife say county council 'completely wrong' in attic conversion row

Tim Healy

Published 02/06/2016 | 16:39

Sinn Fein TD John Brady and his wife, Gayle Ui Bhradaigh pictured leaving the Four Courts after the opening day of a High Court action
Sinn Fein TD John Brady and his wife, Gayle Ui Bhradaigh pictured leaving the Four Courts after the opening day of a High Court action

SINN Fein TD John Brady and his wife Gayle say Wicklow Co Council is completely wrong in its insistence that an attic conversion they carried out in their council home was in breach of building regulations.

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The High Court is hearing a challenge by the couple to the council's bid to evict them because they did not get permission to retain the 2004 work to put an extra bedroom in their home in Kilbride Grove, Bray.

The council claims it was a fire risk but the Brady's lawyer, Cormac O'Dúlacháin SC, said the claim it was in breach of regulations was "100 per cent wrong".

The claim that a roof light window in the attic conversion - partly built by Mr Brady who is a carpenter - was not big enough for rescue purposes was wrong because there was already a full window at the gable end of the attic, counsel said. 

This window was provided as part of the original construction and the entire attic space was originally built so that a conversion could be carried out, as it has been in other houses in the area, Mr O'Dúlacháin said.

Counsel said it was also disputed that fire doors were required at the ground and first floor levels.

The couple were told to apply to the council for retention of the work, with a fire report from a professional with a minimum of €6.5m indemnity insurance, or restore the house to its original condition. 

They have lived in the house with their five children as council tenants for the last 14 years and had informed the council in 2004 of their desire to extend for their growing family when they sought financial assistance for the work but were told there was no money available.

Mr Justice Max Barrett was told that despite the fact that works carried out since the eviction notice by the Bradys meant the conversion was substantially in compliance with building regulations, the council had still not withdrawn the eviction notice.

Mr Brady says he is being specifically targeted because of his criticism of the council.  This included criticism of the local authority's conduct over the deaths of two of its fireman and over his involvement in a homeless protest which led to a sit-in at Bray Town Hall.

The council strongly denies it has carried out a vendetta against him and says he case should be rejected including on grounds that he had provided no evidence for such claims.

It says its primary concern has always been about the safety of the occupants of the attic conversion and the fire risk posed.

The council says the fact the conversion is now substantially in compliance shows the works were required.

It says the notice to quit resulted from the couple's own action and that it is entitled to carry out inspections of its housing stock at any time, which was what occurred in this case.

The Brady's seek declarations from the court that the council's decision is irrational, unreasonable, disproportionate, and in breach of their constitutional and European convention rights.

The case continues.

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