Saturday 18 November 2017

Granny (90) facing €1,500 legal bill for satellite dish error

Anne Rudd in front of her home where the satellite dish was once fixed to the wall beside the alarm
Anne Rudd in front of her home where the satellite dish was once fixed to the wall beside the alarm
Anne Rudd at court with her daughter Terry Davey

John Brennan, Tom Tuite and Daniel McConnell

A 90-year-old great-grandmother who was left facing a €1,500 legal bill for breaching planning laws by having a satellite dish on the front of her home has been inundated with offers from the public to help her pay it.

However, the family of Anne Rudd insist they will pay the bill and have urged people to donate to charities like Age Action instead.

Ms Rudd, known to her friends as Peg, was said to have been left "very shaken" by her ordeal.

She appeared before Dublin District Court yesterday accused of failing to comply with an enforcement notice issued by Dublin City Council on May 28 last telling her to remove an "unauthorised" satellite dish from the front of her home on St Enda's Road, Terenure, Dublin.

The court heard that seven properties in the area were found to have satellite dishes on their front facades, which is a breach of planning regulations.

Ms Rudd's family were said to have been shocked when they realised that the satellite - a birthday present for Ms Rudd - required planning permission.

They removed it at the end of July - a month later than an enforcement notice stipulated.

Judge John O'Neill said Ms Rudd "could do without this" at this stage in her life but he pointed out that she had received a warning letter in March and had been given extra time to take the satellite dish down.

The court heard the council was seeking payment of its costs, totalling €2,106.

The judge said it seemed high, but he had to take into account that the dish was in contravention of planning laws, inspections had to be carried out and legal proceedings were initiated. Ms Rudd later agreed to pay €1,500 towards the council's legal costs.

Last night, Ms Rudd's daughter, Ann Claxton, said the experience had been "a day from hell".

"It's been a very hard day but if Dublin City Council never does this [to] anybody again than it will be well worth it.

"It was quite a shock to see that, if she didn't pay, she'd have a criminal record."

Dozens of people have offered to help pay the bill on behalf of Ms Rudd. However, Ms Claxton urged them to donate the money to charity instead.

"I believe that there are a lot of people ringing in wanting to [help her pay] - we don't want that. Our family and our siblings are paying."

Meanwhile, the case has garnered the attention of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who said "common sense" should prevail. The matter was raised in the Dáil by Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin during the Order of Business.

Responding, Mr Kenny said: "I do not know the details of the senior citizen in question but I have heard the headlines on the radio.

"Clearly, anybody dealing with an issue like that should be able to apply a measure of common sense and not have this end up in court."

Irish Independent

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