County council goes to court to remove Traveller from site

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In a case that could have implications for Laois and other local authorities, a county council has brought a High Court action against a Travelller family which it says is trespassing on a site earmarked for new social housing units. 

Clare County Council seeks an injunction against Bernard and Helen McDonagh compelling them to vacate a site at Ashline, Kilrush Road, in Ennis that they have been residing on since November 24th last. 

The Court heard that the site had formally been used as Traveller accommodation, but had been vacant in recent years following a suspected arson attack. 

The site contains several houses, some of which had been badly damaged by fire. 

The Council is taking the action because there are plans to build 40 social housing units on the site, which it says is a health and safety hazard for the McDonagh family. 

At the High Court on Friday Ms Justice Caroline Costello granted the Council permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on the McDonagh family. 

The Judge made the matter returnable to next week. 

Seeking the order Patrica Hill Bl for the Council said the site had not been used following the fires. The site had been sealed off and concrete bollards were erected around it. 

At around 3am on the morning of November 24th last heavy machinery and a forklift were used to remove the barriers, which allowed access to the site. 

There are now two caravans and horses on the site, counsel said. 

The council has "serious health and safety concerns" about the site, counsel said. 

There are plans to build 40 social housing units on the site, and construction work is due to start next Spring, counsel added. 

Counsel said the local authority engaged in talks with the McDonaghs in an effort to resolve the problem. 

It made offers of alternative accommodation to the couple and their children, including an offer a private rented four bedroom house in Ennis. 

Counsel said the offers had been refused, and left the local authority no option other than to bring court proceedings. 

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