A couple appearing before Mr Justice Donald Binchy at the High Court in Dublin, have spoken of their ‘Hell’ after their farmhouse vanished; demolished without notice, when construction began on the new dual-carriageway between Limerick and Nenagh, on September 6th 2006.
Brian and Mary O’Shaughnessy, since that date, have been living in rented accommodation, following the disappearance of their single-storey, two-bedroom old farmhouse property, once situated at Annaholty, Birdhill, Co Tipperary.
The court heard that while other properties in the area had been acquired and demolished in order to construct the Limerick/ Nenagh dual-carriageway, the O’Shaughnessys were informed by the National Roads Authority in 2003 that their home was not to be included in any future road construction plans.
Now following the loss of this property, they are seeking damages from Limerick County Council, the NRA, RPS Consulting Engineers Ltd, Egis Route Scetauroute SA (a joint venture in the name of RPS Scetauroute JV) and Midland Fencing Ltd for negligence.
It is claimed Limerick County Council and the NRA were responsible for the operation, overall design and acquisition of land, and oversaw construction of the N7 dual-carriageway’s construction, while RPS Consulting Engineers were the contractors engaged to build the scheme. Midland Fencing was a subcontractor of this joint venture; which then carried out the demolition of the O’Shaughnessy farmhouse.
Each of the defendants deny negligence and have served each other with legal notices saying the other were not responsible for what happened, while Limerick County Council and the NRA accept the farmhouse was wrongfully demolished and the couple are entitled to all due compensation. Midland Fencing says it was told by the contractors to demolish a number of properties along the route of the N7, including the O’Shaughnessy home, which was described as appearing dilapidated, derelict, unfurnished and uninhabitable.
Ms Mary O’Shaughnessy said she and her husband Brian bought the house originally from a vendor who had used it as a holiday home in 1998, and they had lived there for a period and had also rented it out. They were informed in 2003 that their farmhouse, would not be the subject of a compulsory purchase order. This ascertained, the couple had then made plans to renovate and extend the property and having borrowed funding had also carrying out preparatory works for future planned renovations. By late August 2006, slates on the roof had been removed and all existing furniture had been removed.
In an attempt to collect post at the property on the evening of September 6th 2006, Mrs O’Shaughnessy arrived at Annaholty, to find that the farmhouse had vanished. She was later informed by a neighbour that the property had been demolished between 11.00am and 3.20pm that same day. Police were then informed and a solicitor was consulted, leaving the couple living an eight-year nightmare since that date.
This case is expected to last before the High Court for several weeks.