High Court dismiss challenge of Galway family who turned down four-bedroom house

The High Court has dismissed a woman and her five children’s challenge against Galway County Council’s refusal to provide them with continued emergency accommodation after they turned down an offer of a four-bedroom house.

The claims were dismissed by Ms Justice Miriam O’Regan who found that the local authority did not breach the family’s Constitutional rights or their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR ) when it decided to stop providing them with emergency accommodation.

The court heard emergency accommodation was ended last summer after the family, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, refused the council’s transitional offer of a four bedroom house.

They turned down the council’s offer because the house is located too far away from Galway City where a special placement has been provided for one of the children who requires significant educational and medical supports.

The child would not be able to get similar placement in the area the house is located, and the mother would have to drive 100 miles a day to accommodate all her children in their schools.

The council said it had made a reasonable offer of accommodation and had taken all the family’s needs into account.

The family were made homeless after their tenancy at private rented accommodation in the Galway City area ended in early 2017.

The family, who are members of the Travelling community and have been on a housing list for several years, were provided with emergency accommodation at a hotel.

Since their emergency accommodation ended the family have been living at an undisclosed located for several months.

The council said it had prioritised the family, and the house it offered is the only four-bedroom it has available.

In their proceedings against the council the family sought orders including one quashing the refusal to continue providing emergency accommodation to the family.

They claimed the decision was irrational and in breach of their constitutional rights and rights under the ECHR.

Their housing needs had not been properly assessed, it was also claimed. The family also sought to quash a decision by the council deferring their housing application for a one-year period.

In her judgment Ms Justice O’Regan said that in all the circumstances the decision to withdraw emergency accommodation had not breached the family’s rights.

Noting the offer of the four-bedroom house, the judge said there was a failure to establish the council’s decision was irrational or unlawful, the judge added.

In addition the council was entitled to make the deferral. The judge said the council had taken into account the family’s vulnerability.

However, the judge said the mother had failed to provide the council with information when making an application for housing.

The mother, who has 89 convictions for minor offences, told the council in 2010 and 2011 that she did not have a conviction for disorderly conduct in a public place in the previous five years, when she did have such a conviction during that period.

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