Friday 23 August 2019

Bid to halt RTE Investigates on rental sector in Ireland, High Court hears

The High Court, Dublin
The High Court, Dublin

Aodhan O'Faolain

A company providing various services to foreign students wants to halt tomorrow's RTE television report on the rented accommodation sector in Ireland, the High Court heard.

The action has been taken by the Green Effect Technology Ltd, trading as Global Academics, and its directors Jason Orr and Joshua Cantwell, in relation to a planned broadcast on the Primetime programme.

The company says that among its services to students are the provision of information, orientation and language services.

It is not involved in providing medium term or long term accommodation or in the provision of private rented accommodation, it says.

However it says it has entered into a lease agreement with a premises at Old Kilmainham Road, Dublin, which its uses as an office and for temporary accommodation.

Some students had stayed at the premises, it says.

Last August, the company received a warning letter from Dublin City Council said that an unauthorised development had taken place.

An inspection of the building was carried out by Dublin Fire Brigade in September and the building was vacated by October 11.  The company says it has tried to engage with the various authorities.

However, in October it was contacted by RTE saying it was compiling a report in the rented accommodation sector, and that there was an immediate danger to the welfare and safety of tenants at the building.

The company says RTE has alleged there have been multiple breaches of the fire safety and building regulations at the premises.

It claims that because of its engagement with the relevant authorities, the RTE broadcast will usurp the relevant statutory process.

The company and its directors claim this will completely undermine their rights, including their right to privacy and to earn a living.

They fear that the broadcast will will portray them as being unquestionably guilty of offences.

They want the broadcast restrained until the completion of investigations by the relevant authorities.

The want an injunction restraining RTE, and journalist Barry O'Kelly, from broadcasting or publishing anything about the applicants, their business, their economic relations and any references to their property until all investigations have been concluded by all the relevant authorities.  

The matter came before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan who granted permission, on an ex-parte (one side only represented) basis to the applicants to serve short notice of the proceedings on RTE and Mr O'Kelly.

The Judge said he was not prepared to make any orders until the court had heard from RTE.

He adjourned the case to Thursday sitting of the High Court.

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