Thursday 22 February 2018

Homeless couple reject council offer of temporary accommodation as 'unsuitable'

Judge's gavel.
Judge's gavel.

Aodhan O Faolain

A HOMELESS couple have told the High Court that South Dublin County Council's offer of temporary emergency accommodation is not suitable for their needs.

The court heard that Alan Murphy and his partner Kelly Gilsenan have been sleeping in a tent since becoming homeless several weeks ago.

Last Friday the Council  obtained a High Court injunction against the couple directing them to vacate South  Dublin Co Council's offices, where they commenced an occupation last Wednesday. The injunction was sought after the couple, along with several supporters, refused to leave the offices.

The injunction, which was granted on an ex parte basis ( where one side only in court)  returned this morning before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan.  The court heard the couple became homeless after the had to leave the private accommodation they had been renting, when that property was sold. They were unable to obtain other accommodation.

The Council represented by Carol O'Farrell Bl said the couple refused to leave the Council's offices in a dispute over obtaining housing. Counsel said they were offered temporary emergency accommodation, which they declined. They were on the council's housing list which currently has 8,500 people on it.

However Counsel, following a question from the Judge was unable to say when it was likely the counsel would be able to provide the couple with housing. 

The couple, who are not legally represented, told the judge that the offer made to them by the counsel was not suitable for their needs. Mr Murphy said what was on offer was a hostel. He said he suffered from a medical condition, and he and his partner needed somewhere "safe" to stay.

He said he is on a disability allowance and his partner is on a carers allowance.  He also told the court that he and his partner had been sleeping in a tent since they became homeless. They asked the court to adjourn the proceedings against them as they wanted time to put in a sworn statement in reply to the Council's action.

The matter will return before the court later this afternoon when the couple will tell the court if they intend to comply with the terms of the injunction.

Mr Justice Gilligan told them that the order of the High Court must be complied with, however he said that under the terms of the injunction they were perfectly entitled to attend at the Council's offices with advisers in a bid to resolve their difficulties. 

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