Traveller Accommodation Rights at Question in Supreme Court Case

Commission Granted Right to Appear as Amicus Curiae in Case of Traveller Family Eviction

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) has today been granted leave from the Supreme Court to exercise its amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) function in a case of the eviction of a Traveller family in County Clare.

The case of Bernard McDonagh and Helen McDonagh v Clare County Council is being heard by the Supreme Court as it is of significant public importance and may have wider implications.

The McDonaghs resided for several years as tenants of the Council in a small Traveller-specific housing development. After the destruction of their home by fire they then lived in private housing for several years, but had to leave rented accommodation when the landlord required possession for the purpose of refurbishment.

They subsequently moved to the site that is the subject of this case. Clare County Council argued that their occupation of the land constituted unauthorised development under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. The High Court granted the interlocutory orders evicting the appellants from the land and these were upheld by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court has granted a stay on these orders.

The McDonaghs are seeking Traveller-specific accommodation and have refused offers of unsuitable standard local authority accommodation.

The case focuses on whether a local authority, such as Clare County Council, needs to carry out a specific proportionality assessment ahead of carrying out an eviction from lands that are not lawfully occupied, and what role the Courts should have in this.

Over the past number of years, the Commission has been actively engaged on the rights of Travellers to culturally appropriate accommodation, and it has used its legal powers to carry out Equality Reviews with every local authority in the State on the provision of Traveller-specific accommodation.

 

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

The issue of the provision of Traveller-specific accommodation is one of the most intractable rights issues in the State.

“The Commission is exercising our amicus curiae function in this case to seek to bring forward, for the Court’s assistance, the specific human rights and equality issues involved.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Editor’s Note

As the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is now formally involved in the proceedings, we are precluded from making any further comment as the matter is before the Supreme Court.

Where written submissions are made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the superior Courts in amicus curiae cases they will be made available on www.ihrec.ie after the case has been heard.

The amicus curiae function of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Commission’s functions under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 include that of applying for liberty to appear as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) before the superior courts in proceedings that involve, or are concerned with, the human rights or equality rights of any person.

Section 10 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act sets out the functions of the Commission and Section 10(2)(e) provides that the IHREC shall have a function:

“to apply to the High Court or the Supreme Court for liberty to appear before the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, as amicus curiae in proceedings before that Court that involve or are concerned with the human rights or equality rights of any person and to appear as such an amicus curiae on foot of such liberty being granted (which liberty each of the said courts is hereby empowered to grant in its absolute discretion).”

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

 

 

 

 

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