Aran islanders would not sell house to sergeant, court told
Tourists may be embraced with open arms on the Aran Islands, but when it comes to someone moving in permanently they were a bit less welcoming, a court has heard.
They even refused to bend the rules when a new garda sergeant started looking for a home in which to settle with his wife and young family, Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Matthew Deery, was told.
"There is a reluctance by the islanders to sell property to outsiders," retired Garda Sergeant Christopher Joyce said in the Circuit Civil Court.
"I searched for sites for a new home but found none for sale."
Mr Joyce (60) is suing the Garda Commissioner and the State for more than €32,000 expenses related to his transfer in 2000 from Ballina, Co Mayo, to Kilronan sub-district on Inismore with responsibility for law keeping also on Inismaan and Inisheer.
He said when he eventually found a site for sale in 2003, he faced huge issues in relation to legal title. He was refused planning permission on the basis he was not a native islander as laid down in the Galway County Council's Development Plan.
Cliona Kimber, counsel for Mr Joyce, said he had sold his home in Ballina and moved to a new home in Glenard Avenue, Salthill, Co Galway.
Joe Jeffers, counsel for the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice, told the court Mr Joyce had been fully paid lodging and travel and subsistence allowances and it was denied he was entitled any further monies claimed.
Mr Joyce said the islands were policed from Kilronan by a sergeant and two gardai on duty 24-7 for a week at a time. He had travelled to Inismore or among the islands by ferry or Aer Arann. He said he had been paid a €7,963 lodging allowance for a 15-month period after his transfer, but was suing for in excess of €17,000 house purchase expenses and just over €14,000 house sale expenses as well as furniture removal costs.
He claimed it was a condition of his contract that he would be entitled to repayment of his removal expenses in accordance with a 1998 Garda HQ Directive, but said reimbursement had wrongfully been refused.
Mr Joyce claimed damages for distress and inconvenience and said he had been put under severe financial pressure as a result of personally having to pay for removal expenses.
Inspector Anne Wedgeworth, of the Garda Finance Directorate, said it had been decided Mr Joyce was not entitled to house purchase expenses as he had bought his home in Salthill outside a permitted 15-mile limit from the garda station.
She agreed there was no mention of a 15-mile limit in the 1998 Garda HQ Directive.
Insp Wedgeworth said Mr Joyce had abandoned his house purchase expenses claim in 2004 and had made a new claim for house sale expenses which, by then, was out of time and would have involved a nine-month forfeiture of lodging allowances, which Mr Joyce was unwilling to concede. Mr Justice Deery reserved his judgment.