Limerick couple told to start work on house or get off site

Judge Patricia Harney

A COUPLE who have moved a mobile home and four caravans on to a site in County Limerick where they are trying to restore an old house have been told they have four weeks to move on the restoration or get out.

Daniel O’Donoghue, who moved the mobile home and caravans on to the site at Ardkilmartin, Kilmallock without planning permission, appeared before Kilmallock District Court this week.

Judge Patricia Harney was told that the matter has been ongoing for a year or more.

Eoin Walsh, Assistant Staff Officer with Limerick City and County Council, told the court that he had visited the site a number of times and, on his latest visit, saw the four caravans and mobile home in situ. The court heard there are ten people in all living at the site, most of them relatives of the O’Donoghues.

Mr Walsh told the court the site was “clean and well kept” and the nearest neighbour was a field away.

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He agreed with the O’Donoghue’s legal representative that there was “no animosity” locally to the family trying to renovate the house.

He told solicitor for the council, Will Leahy, that no actual work had been done to the original house structure, but he believed Mr O’Donoghue wants to make it habitable.

“There are grants of around €50,000 available for this kind of work but he (Mr O’Donoghue) would have to pay to have the work done first and then claim it back. I don’t think he has the means to do that,” Mr Walsh said.

Judge Harney said that “the rules apply to everyone and just because Mr O’Donoghue wants to live in a mobile home does not mean they don’t apply to him”.

The Judge said she was making an enforcement order, directing that the temporary dwellings be removed within one month, but said that if there were progress in the matter, the Council might well take a more lenient view of enforcing the order.

The couple’s barrister asked the court for longer, saying that “Mr O’Donoghue has just now become aware there is a grant of €50,000 available. Even if he were to apply for the grant tomorrow, that’s not log enough for anything to be done.”

But Judge Harney maintained that if progress was made, the enforcement might take a different course.

“It’s not an option for him to do nothing,” she said.

Noting the issue of Mr O’Donoghue finding money upfront for repairs before availing  of the grant, the Judge referred to photos that had been made available to the court.

“I see a very beautiful mobile home and new caravans, as well as a number of well maintained cars. I would not have a problem in estimating that all of that would be worth €150,000,” the Judge said.