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Tipperary Traveller Family Found To Be Living In Wretched Circumstances.

Yesterday, High Court judge Ms Justice Marguerite Bolger has described claims that a Tipperary traveller family of six, have been living in a one-berth caravan and sleeping in a car for months, as being both “wretched” and a “very unsettling situation.”

Ms Justice Marguerite Bolger has granted lawyers, acting on behalf of Mr John and Mrs Nikita McInerney, together with their four young children, permission to bring a High Court challenge against Tipperary Co Council in the handling of the families accommodation situation.

The McInerney traveller family maintain that they had been living at the side of the road near Toomevara, Co. Tipperary for some months, but having being moved on, they are currently located at the Springfort Retail Park, in Nenagh and have since been informed by An Garda Síochána they must immediately vacate same location as well.

The family now fear that they may be prosecuted by An Garda Síochána, and have their vehicles; namely their car and a one berth caravan, used to sleep in, seized, rendering them without a roof over their head.

The McInerney family had spent some time previously in emergency accommodation, and in their High Court action, have claimed that since May they have been precluded by Tipperary Co. County Council from obtaining hotel accommodation, as the Council claim that they are only provided with funds that partially cover the cost of B&B accommodation.

In court yesterday Mr Colm O’Dwyer SC, with Mr Sean Betty BL, instructed by solicitors for the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) described the Co. Council’s policy towards the McInernery family as being rigid, inflexible and not meeting his clients’ basic needs.

Counsel for the McInerney family said that the current caravan accommodation was totally unsuitable, and the Gardai had also informed the family that they must vacate the area of the retail park.

Tipperary Co. Council had offered his clients, (latter in receipt only of social welfare), just €100 per night towards the cost of B&B accommodation, which remained insufficient; with the cost of B&Bs more than what they have been grant aided by the Council.
For a variety of reasons the family find it difficult to get emergency accommodation due: (1) To their family size; (2) Places contacted being filled by tourists: (3) Prices being charged exceeding grant aid from the Co. Council; and finally (4) It has to be remembered that their children are due and required to return to school come the end of this summer holiday period.

Counsel for the McInerney family said that the council’s current decision amounts to a breach of the McInerney families constitutional and ECHR rights, and the local authority’s obligations, under the 2014 Irish Human Rights and Equality Act.

While encouraging both sides to work together to resolve this situation; Ms Justice Bolger said that while noting the council’s response to the McInerney family’s current situation, the situation remained unsatisfactory from both parties’ point of view. She further stated; before adjourning the case to a date in September next, that the matter was indeed urgent, and expressed the wish to have both arguments, placed before the court ASAP.

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