Residents can't ignore €63k Travellers' legal bill – judge
A judge has said that 61 neighbours can not turn their back on a man who faces a €63,360 legal bill from an ill-fated court attempt to block a Traveller family moving into a €465,000 council house in their area.
At Ennis Circuit Court yesterday, Judge Gerald Keyes ordered married father of three Brendan Maguire, of Ivy Grove, Cullenagh, Ballina, Co Tipperary, to pay €40 per month to Traveller couple Charlie and Noreen O'Reilly, of Cullenagh, Ballina, Co Tipperary.
The installation payment to the O'Reillys arises from their legal costs connected to a High Court action that Mr Maguire and four others, supported by 61 members of the Cullenagh Residents Association, took against North Tipperary Co Council.
The residents were seeking to prevent the council allocating the home to the O'Reillys and their eight children – including two with special needs – and their judicial review action was unsuccessful in May 2009.
In July 2009, the €465,000 home designated for the O'Reillys was set ablaze in an arson attack.
The attack was roundly condemned by the residents association at the time. No one has been ever been charged with the arson and the O'Reillys subsequently moved into the refurbished home, where they reside today.
The O'Reillys were notice parties in the High Court action taken by the residents and they have since secured a decree against Mr Maguire for the €63,360 legal bill.
Counsel for the couple, David McHugh BL told the court yesterday that proceedings are in place against other residents to pay the O'Reillys' legal costs.
However, Mr Maguire told the court yesterday that he put his name to the High Court action on the basis of his neighbours signing a letter that each person would be equally liable for costs in the case. He said: "Everyone was equally involved, as far as I was concerned."
Mr Maguire handed the letter into court and Judge Keyes said: "This document says that whatever costs you have to pay or are liable for as a result of the proceedings, there is an agreement that your neighbours will contribute to those costs.
"You are entitled to bring separate proceedings against them and look for a contribution. They can't turn around now and say, 'I'm sorry, because it went bad, that absolves us from our liability.'"
The O'Reillys sought €400 per month from Mr Maguire in the district court where they were granted an instalment order for €40 and Mr McHugh was yesterday seeking an increase on that.
He confirmed that the O'Reillys have secured an instalment order of €20 per month against another resident.
Mr Maguire said that he left his €70,000 per annum job at Molex in Shannon in March last year and is now planning to go to the UK to seek work.
Judge Keyes said that Mr Maguire doesn't have the money to pay the debt at this time. He ordered him to pay €40 per month and back monies from April when the installment order was approved in the district court.
He adjourned the matter to October 28 to allow Mr Maguire lodge an affidavit of means.