High Court find recognition of Traveller Ethnicity not to be legally binding

The Irish High Court has determined the ‘Statement for Recognition of the Traveller Community as an Ethnic Group’ made by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny before the Dáil in March 2016 to hold no legal effect.

David Mongans, his wife and four children were deemed to be 'an uninsurable risk' by the Council as a result of a 'malicious fire' that destroyed their home and left the family destitute in 2015. Left homeless the family have lived with friends, in a shed and currently reside in a caravan.  The family is judicially reviewing Clare County Council's refusal to rehouse them, giving particular regard to the significant health problems of some of the children.

Following the ‘declaration of ethnicity’ by the Taoiseach in March 2015 an extension in time was sought by the Mongans to amend their proceedings to include an additional claim relying on the recognition of Traveller ethnicity in conjunction with Articles 40.1, 40.3.1 and 2 of the Constitution. It was argued that relying on the recognition of Traveller ethnicity would further support their application for local authority housing, as being recognised as an ethnic group would shift the onus of proof of alleged discrimination from the family to the County Council.

On the evidence before the Court, Justice Robert Eagar allowed for an extension as he found there was a good and sufficient reason for doing so. The Court however rejected the application to amend the statement of grounds for the case, finding that to do so ‘would amount to an entirely different case to that which has been made to date’. In assessing the arguments of the Mongans family that the statement of recognition of Traveller ethnicity made by the Taoiseach in March 2015, it was held that the statement ‘has no legal effect’ as ‘it is not legislation but fact’.

Click here for the full judgement.





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