High Court Prevents Eviction of Traveller Family

On 3 November a High Court judge declined to enforce a decade-old eviction order against various members of the Traveling community in Tipperary. In the 1990s Tipperary County Council built 3 small cottages in Powerstown, Clonmel. The houses were built near a “longstanding unauthorized temporary dwelling”. The “temporary” structure was home to a Traveller family for roughly nineteen years that now consists of two adults and their four children. Over the years additional structures were built as children became adults and there are now two additional structures that house their families. When the three houses were built in the 90s a tenancy agreement was entered into between the County Council and the Traveller family, which allowed them to remain on the land but prevented them from allowing trash to accumulate, disturbing the neighbours, and keeping animals that cannot be described as domestic pets (unless they become a nuisance). Over the years it became apparent that the family was not following the agreement and Tipperary County Council sought to remove them from the land.

In 2013, several orders were made by the court allowing Tipperary County Council to enter the land to conduct necessary maintenance to the sanitary facilities as well as to remove roughly twenty people, some of whom had no agreement with the County Council to live on the land. An order was also made to mandate the removal of all animals (horses, dogs, and fowl) and to prevent the occupants from building additional unauthorized structures. Despite the orders being made in 2013 it was almost ten years later when the County Council sought permission to enforce them (it should be noted that the order to carry out maintenance was enforced in 2013). Earlier this year the Circuit Court granted the County Council permission to carry out the order but on appeal, the High Court rescinded the permission.

In her judgment, Siobhan Phelan J declined to allow the County Council to evict the Traveller family because “No attempt had been set …regarding the steps taken to provide Traveller-specific accommodation that vindicates a right to respect the distinct Traveller identity and culture" and thus the order was not a proportionate interference with the “families’ rights in their homes”. The Travelling community has long been faced with a lack of governmental support when it comes to housing and often outright discrimination leading to them being forced into less than desirable circumstances. Despite the Court refusing to allow the evictions to take place the court did state that it would not be disproportionate to allow the County Council to remove animals, animal-related structures (that were built in 2013), and to go on to the premises to carry out sanitary works. The decision is expected to be appealed.

Click here for the full judgement https://www.courts.ie/viewer/pdf/59acb0d7-19a1-4a22-be5b-243ef560d714/2023_IEHC_600.pdf/pdf#view=fitH



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