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Judge Refuses Orders Permitting Tipperary Co. Council Evict Caravans From Traveller Site.

Picture Courtesy Frank Fullard.

The High Court has overturned a decision to give effect to a 10-year-old order which allowed Tipperary County Council to remove/evict unauthorised mobile homes/caravans; their occupants and animals, off land used as group housing for members of the Traveller community.

Earlier this year, the Circuit Court had granted Tipperary County Council permission to pursue enforcement of the 2013 order. This decision was yesterday appealed to the High Court.
In 2021, the council had claimed that the terms of this 2013 order had been breached; alleging that three unauthorised structures, as well as horses, dogs and chickens were being kept on the property in question. That same 2013 order had required the occupants of the site to remove any/all unauthorised structures, mobile homes, caravans and animals from the site.

Yesterday, presiding High Court Judge, Ms Justice Siobhan Phelan overturned the lower Circuit Court’s decision, stating that it was accepted that there had been significant changes on the ground since 10 years previously, back in 2013.

In making her judgement, Ms Justice Phelan stated that no attempt had been set out in the evidence placed before the court, regarding the steps taken to provide traveller-specific accommodation that vindicated a right to respect the distinct Travellers identity and culture; adding that she could not agree with the council’s argument that the 2013 Circuit Court order was created in a manner that allowed for proportional interference with the families’ rights in their accommodation.

Ms Justice Phelan further pointed out that extensive works had been carried out on the property, including improve sanitation; removal of some 31 unauthorised structures; animals; together with tonnes of rubbish, by the council after the 2013 orders had been sanctioned.

Tipperary County Council claimed that from 2021, new members of the Travelling community had moved onto the site in question, resulting in further animals and three unauthorised caravans being placed on the property.

A proffer, by Tipperary Co. Council, made to some of the persons involved in the court action, offering alternative accommodation, had been refused on the grounds it was not suitable to their needs, the court heard. Many of those living there had confirmed that they would certainly like to move from the site to somewhere where they could retain their animals, but claim they had not been offered Traveller-specific accommodation.
The judge said that the keeping of animals is integral to the identity of all Traveller communities.
The matter is expected to return before the court at a later date.

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