Council accuses homeless family who took over vacant property of 'jumping the queue'

John Paul & Frances Doyle
John Paul & Frances Doyle

Longford County Council has stated in the High Court that it has no suitable available accommodation for the seven-strong Doyle family.

Longford County Council has brought High Court proceedings against John Paul and Frances Doyle, who moved into a house at Casey Court, Keenagh, Co Longford some weeks ago.

The couple, who moved into the vacant house with their five children, are on the local authority's housing waiting list.

The local authority is seeking a High Court injunction which will require the Doyles to vacate the property.

A lawyer for the council told the court that the family have no right to stay in the three-bedroom house, reports the Mirror.

Mr Paul Gunning, the council’s lawyer, added that the local authority have sympathy for the Doyles' situation.

However, he stated that their actions in taking over the vacant property meant that they "jumped the queue".

He went on to say that the parents were offered emergency hostel accommodation, which was refused.

Mr Gunning also added that the three-bedroom home in Casey Court is unsuitable for such a large family, while stating that the council currently has no suitable homes for the Doyles.

The court heard of the family’s acceptance of being "in the wrong" for taking over the house but a letter submitted by John Paul and Frances Doyle stated that they had “no option” due to concerns for the health of their children.

The couple, who did not have legal representation at the High Court hearing, would be happy to take what they consider to be "a mansion" if the council decided to offer it to them.

The local authority is keen to offer the house to a more suitably-sized family higher up on its waiting list, though will give the Doyles time to leave the property.

The council's waiting list comprises of over 1,220 people, Mr Gunning told the court.

The home in Keenagh was previously turned down by another family.

In their letter to the court, the Doyles apologised to the court but pleaded for leniency as they are worried for the entire family’s health.

The couple saw "no other way out", while they stated they would "do anything to put a roof over their children's heads."

The parents also stated that Longford County Council had failed to help them.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan put forward his concerns that if the family were removed from the property, they might end up living on the street.

He did, however, accept that they should not have taken over the vacant property.

The judge suggested that the two parties come together to see if alternative accommodation could be provided for the Doyle family.