Thursday 23 May 2019

'If my children die, I will hold the council responsible' - family given 12 hours to remove mobile home

The council argued that the land involved belongs to Cork Co Council
The council argued that the land involved belongs to Cork Co Council

Ralph Riegel

A judge granted Cork Co Council an injunction for the removal of a large mobile home from a housing estate after its installation sparked a major stand-off between a young Traveller family and local residents.

The large mobile home will now be removed, within a 12-hour period, under Garda supervision from the Beechfield Estate in Fermoy, Co Cork where its installation on a green area sparked an angry stand-off last week between the family of five and local residents

Judge Brian O'Callaghan granted the injunction in Cork Circuit Civil Court after adjourning the original application on Tuesday so that the Traveller family involved could attend the hearing.

He said it was important that the case be heard with representation from the family living in the mobile home at Beechfield in Fermoy, Co Cork.

Under the injunction, the large mobile home must now be removed within 12 hours. A separate injunction hearing will take place on July 12 in respect of a smaller caravan parked outside a local property where the family had previously been living.

Councillor Frank O'Flynn said it was clear that the installation of the mobile home on the estate's green area represented a blatant case of trespass. The family have maintained that the smaller caravan is not suitable accommodation for their three young children.

Emma O'Driscoll and her partner, Jason O'Donoghue, hit out at the injunction and Cork Co Council after the ruling. "It is a joke - that is what it is," Ms O'Driscoll said outside the court. "It is a disgrace. They will remove a home that is fit for children but they want us to stay in one that is not fit for children."

"They want to take away the mobile home but they want the caravan to stay there? It is a dump. The caravan is not fit for children. We will move back in to the caravan but if my children die I will hold that council fully responsible."

Jason O'Donoghue said the outcome was shocking.  "I am not one bit happy - they are after putting me and my children homeless, I don't know what we are going to do now," he said.

"Where are we going to go? What are we going to do? That (caravan) is in bits - it is after collapsing. If we move back in, my children will die. I am after getting into a big debt for that mobile. What are they going to do? Go away and crush my children's home that they were so happy about. There is no law."

The council brought the case seeking an injunction for the immediate removal of a large mobile home that was placed on a green area of the long-established Beechfield Estate in Fermoy on June 14. That sparked a stand-off with residents of the 122-house estate who warned they will not allow their estate to be turned into a halting site.

Residents protested on the old Dublin-Cork road to highlight the issue - and have prevented the removal of a lorry and crane which delivered the mobile home. The lorry was since allowed to leave the site.

The council have argued that the land involved belongs to Cork Co Council and, as such, Emma O’Driscoll and her partner Jason O’Donoghue are trespassing. Donnacha McCarthy, for the council, said the family have been occupying the site in a smaller caravan for two years.

However, the move to install a large mobile home on site caused the situation to escalate with residents and the Traveller family now involved in a stand-off.

Both have refused to back down - with residents demanding the immediate removal of the mobile home and the smaller caravan, while the Traveller family, who have three children aged four years and under, warned they will only move if they are given proper housing.

Mr McCarthy said the council is very concerned that the situation could lead to a disturbance if the impasse is not resolved as quickly as possible. He confirmed that emergency accommodation options have been offered to the family.

The family insisted that such options were unacceptable given that it involved temporary hotel accommodation in Cork city and Kinsale.

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