Family refuse four-bedroom council house due to "lack of a garden"

We've bent over backwards to help the couple, says council

A family refused to move into a four-bedroom council house because it had no garden and was next to a busy road, the High Court has been told.

John Paul Doyle and his wife Frances, who have six children, have been ordered to leave a vacant council house owned by Longford County Council they had occupied without permission.

Mr Doyle claimed his family are being treated differently because they are Travellers, the Irish Times reports.

The council rejected that claim.

The court made the orders sought after being informed the couple were not accepting the alternative accommodation outside Longford.

Mr Doyle said there was no way they would take the four-bedroom house offered, as it has no back garden, is located close to a busy road.

The couple also said they had concerns about fumes from a nearby garage.

The council, which arranged for a fence to put around the alternative accommodation, said they had “bent over backwards” and “can do no more” to help the Doyles.

Paul Gunning, for the council, said housing guidelines meant it could not offer the house in Kenagh to them and rejected claims by Mr Doyle the family were being treated differently because they are Travellers.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan described the situation as “unfortunate”.

He had no alternative but to apply the law and make an order compelling the family leave the house in Kenagh in which they accepted, in a letter to the court, they had no right to be.

As well as sourcing an alternative property just outside Longford, the council said it had raised the ceiling of the rent allowance which meant the family would only have to pay €42 rent weekly.

A council house would cost the family €90 per week, it said.

When the case resumed the Doyles, who said they had nowhere to go, told the judge they had not changed their minds. Mrs Doyle said the alternative house was not safe for her children, adding “a mother knows best”.

Mr Doyle said he was prepared to go to prison if it meant his family would be housed by the council, and said he appreciated the judge had a job to do and told him: “It’s not you, it’s this country.”

The Doyles have been on the housing list for some two years and would remain on the list even if they took up the offer of the alternative accommodation, the court heard.

The court previously heard, before the family moved into the house, they were living in private accommodation but had to leave after their landlord decided to retain the property for his own use.