Eight-month-old twins have to sleep in Moses baskets in their rat infested home near Lahinch with their parents and seven young siblings, the High Court was told today (Friday).
Counsel for the Traveller family James O’Reilly (SC) told the court that John and Caroline Sherlock and their nine children had been living in unhealthy, deplorable and dangerous temporary accommodation at Carrowgar, Lahinch, for the past three years.
Mr Justice Henry Abbott granted the family leave to seek an order directing Clare County Council to provide them with suitable accommodation under the Traveller Accommodation Programme.
Judge Abbott also directed the local authority to carry out an assessment of the family’s circumstances. He allowed the Sherlocks leave to seek an injunction requiring the county council to take such measures as are necessary to provide them with suitable and permanent accommodation.
One of the grounds on which leave for a judicial review was sought and granted was based on a Statement of Recognition of the Traveller Community as an Ethnic Group made in Dáil Éireann by the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny on March 1 last.
Mr O’Reilly told the court that the Traveller Accommodation Programme 2014 to 2018 purported to provide accommodation appropriate to the needs of the Travelling community in general and prospective tenants in particular. He said the council had failed to provide his clients with permanent accommodation.
John and Caroline, both born and reared in County Clare, jointly in a sworn affidavit told the court about the “significant rat infestation” and other health hazards including the seepage upwards of sewage through the surrounding grounds of their home. There was a significant influx of insects into the property.
They said their family, ranging from babies to teenagers, were forced to sleep in inappropriate conditions, which meant they had no privacy.
Judge Abbott, granting the family leave to legally challenge the local authority’s failure to provide appropriate housing, expressed surprise that an assessment of their circumstances had to date not been carried out by the council.
By Ray Managh