Monday 25 September 2017

Winning right to live on boat just swell for Shane

Shane Kennedy (58), who lives on his boat, Portisham, in Balbriggan Harbour. Photo: Arthur Carron
Shane Kennedy (58), who lives on his boat, Portisham, in Balbriggan Harbour. Photo: Arthur Carron
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

An electrical engineer has expressed his relief after being allowed to remain living in his boat after a seven-year legal battle.

Shane Kennedy (58), a father of one, said it was a good day after the Supreme Court ruled Fingal County Council had no jurisdiction over the sea.

The council had been fighting to kick him out of his boat, Portisham, a former Nato mine-sweeper, and have it destroyed.

The vessel is docked at Balbriggan Harbour, in north Dublin.

"I'm relieved, I think, more than delighted. It means that I can feel secure enough that I can put what little money I have into the boat, to get her better rigged," he said.

But the legal battle, which began almost immediately after he moved to the harbour in October 2010, has taken a toll. "It has been absolutely draining. As I'm sure you can imagine with anybody whose home is threatened, [the strain] is there 24/7.

25/5/17 Shane Kennedy who lives on his boat in Balbriggan Harbour. Picture: Arthur Carron
25/5/17 Shane Kennedy who lives on his boat in Balbriggan Harbour. Picture: Arthur Carron

"I've had maybe a dozen good nights' sleep in the last six years," he said. "On the flip side of that, I got an award for helping to save two people's lives on the pier."

He paid €37,000 for the boat in 2007, when he bought it in Essex, England.

He said he liked the freedom of being able to live on a boat, and his parents had been involved in seafaring. He also spoke proudly about his 20-year-old daughter, who has secured a first-class honours degree in marine biology.

One allegation made by the council was that Mr Kennedy was dumping raw sewage into the harbour, but he said that wasn't true.

"I use the toilets here at the top of the harbour, or the hotel up the road if it is late at night," he explained.

He said he plans to rig the boat as a schooner and hopes to sail it to the Indian Ocean.

The council had sought High Court orders allowing it to remove the vessel to Howth where it could be broken up. In 2013, a High Court judge had granted permission to the council to tow the boat to Howth.

After a long legal battle, this week Mr Kennedy won his right to remain living on the boat at the Supreme Court. The three-judge court stressed it was allowing Mr Kennedy's appeal only because Fingal County Council had failed to establish the necessary "technical proof" the Portisham is located on the foreshore within the council's functional area.

Nothing in the judgment should be taken as establishing that the vessel's location, and use as a habitation, is lawful, whether as a matter of planning law or any other basis, Mr Justice Frank Clarke stressed.

Irish Independent

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