Four Traveller families still living in an exclusion zone around Dublin Airport’s new north runway have refused rehousing offers, the High Court has heard.
Whether or not those offers have been reasonably refused will have to be considered as part of injunction proceedings by Dublin airport operator DAA seeking vacant possession of the land at Collinstown, the court also heard.
In 1988, a licence to use the land to accommodate Travellers was given to the local council by the-then Minister for Transport who was the ultimate authority over the airport at that time.
The DAA now needs it to finish work on the new runway, the completion date for which has been extended from last December to next June, Brian Kennedy SC, for the DAA told Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds on Wednesday.
Mr Kennedy was seeking an early hearing of the injunction proceedings against the four remaining families because he said without vacant possession it will mean complications for the carrying out of testing as well as for the contract related to completion work.
Counsel said Fingal Co Council, which was joined as a defendant in the case last week, had submitted a replying affidavit in which it was stated that the council had made formal offers of housing support to the families involved but they have refused to accept them, at least initially. Mediation continues but the families have claimed the offers were not meaningful, he said.
Noting the sensitivities of those discussions, the DAA sought details of those interactions but was told by the council it would only do so under court order, he said.
Conleth Bradley SC, for Fingal Council, said he did not think the dispute between his client and the DAA was necessary as the council was continuing in its responsibility to the families still left on the site. Fourteen of the original 18 families who have lived there accepted alternative accommodation, he said.
It was their position that “reasonable offers” of accommodation have been made to the four remaining families, he said.
The “essence of this issue” as part of this case was whether what had been offered to the families had been reasonably or unreasonably refused, he said.
Joe Hogan SC, for six individuals among the four families, said he had not got instructions yet from his clients in relation to the release of what may be sensitive information. His clients had nothing to hide but he asked to be allowed to return to court should he receive “adverse instructions”.
He understood the DAA’s urgency in wanting to get the case on but pointed out that urgency should be tempered by the fact that there is “hardly a plane in the sky.”
Brian Foley , for one the individuals being separately represented, Shirley McAleer, said his client had found the council wanting in its response to a freedom of information request in relation to a housing file. The file provided was incomplete and counsel felt it was now necessary to seek it by way of a discovery application to court.
Without it, he said, he did not have adequate information as a professional representative of his client.
Ms Justice Reynolds said Mr Foley’s concerns could be addressed by a letter between solicitors for each side and she made a direction this should happen within a week.
She approved a timetable for the exchange of other documents between the parties and set a hearing date for the end of next month. If there was “any slippage” she expected the parties to come back to court at the earliest opportunity.