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90-year-old Dublin woman facing large legal bill over satellite dish

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Anne Rudd outside court today
Anne Rudd outside court today

A 90-year-old south Dublin woman has been hauled into court and left facing a hefty legal bill for having an “unauthorised" satellite dish on the front of her house.

Anne Rudd, of St Enda's Road, Terenure, Dublin 6, was compelled to come to court today after she was summonsed by Dublin City Council.

She appeared before Judge John O'Neill at Dublin District Court accused of failing to comply with an enforcement notice issued on May 28th last telling her she had to remove “the unauthorised satellite dish” along with all associated fixtures and fittings from the facade of her house.

The charge is under Section 154 of the Planning and Developments Acts and her case was adjourned for three weeks to allow her time to pay prosecution costs. It is understood she has agreed to contribute €1,500 towards the council's legal fees.

James Cosgrave, a planning enforcement officer with the council, told prosecution solicitor Michael Quinlan that he spoke to the woman in March and told her the dish could not be fixed to the front of her home. The same issue arose with seven other properties in the area, Judge O'Neill was told.

Mr Cosgrave furnished the court with photos and the judge was told the woman had been given until the end of June to move the dish. Mr Cosgrave then gave her more time to remove it but that had not been done by the time of his next inspection, on July 21st, after which proceedings commenced.

Judge O'Neill was told that Ms Rudd had first got a warning letter from the council in February. Mr Quinlan, prosecuting, said she had been told then that something had to be done and the proceedings were a result of non-compliance.

The elderly woman sat near the back of her court supported by two of her daughters and a neighbour. She did not address the court however her daughter Anne Claxton explained to the judge that the family had not known about the council's first letter for a number of months. She contacted the council to tell them: “We are talking about a 90-year-old lady here, she never showed us the first letter."

Another member of her family told the court Ms Rudd had “a box for the gas” at the front of her house and she would have regarded the satellite dish to be “another utility”. She would not have known what the council's letter pertained to, the court was also told.

At first it was thought the letter was a complaint from a residents' association but they later learned it was official and arranged to have the dish taken down.

However, Judge O'Neill heard that by that stage the legal proceedings had commenced and the summons had been issued. He said Ms Rudd "could do without this" at her stage in life but she had received a warning letter in March and had been given extra time to take the satellite dish down.

The court heard that the council was seeking payment of their costs totalling €2,106 but the judge said he hoped some compromise could be reached on this figure. 

He said it seemed high but he had to take into account that the dish was in contravention of planning laws, inspections had to be carried out and legal proceedings were initiated.