A family who had been living in a mobile home at the centre of a “tense” stand-off with residents of a housing estate were ordered by a judge to remove it by midnight yesterday or face it being taken away by Cork County Council — and yesterday the family had it moved.
Emma O’Driscoll and Jason O’Donoghue, who have three young children, have been living in the mobile home on a green area of the Beechfield estate in Fermoy in North Cork and had been asked to court in Cork City to respond to efforts by Cork County Council to have the dwelling removed.
Previous to the mobile home being parked there, the couple had been staying in a caravan on the green at the rear of Mr O’Donoghue’s father’s house for two years, and which itself is the subject of a separate action by the local authority.
Residents of the estate held two vigils on recent nights in opposition to the mobile home, while the local authority had earlier this week been refused an ex parte interim injunction giving it powers to remove the mobile home because Judge Brian O’Callaghan said the family should be in court to represent their side.
Yesterday, Ms O’Driscoll and Mr O’Donoghue were present to hear an affidavit read into court regarding the council’s application.
Read by Donnchadh McCarthy BL for the local authority, it alleged that the family is trespassing. It said the couple — both born in 1995 — have three children, the oldest aged four, and that the location of the mobile home is not a halting site.
It also alleged complaints made by residents of antisocial behaviour, including urinating on the grass, bullying of residents, the accumulation of rubbish and noise late at night, as well as a lack of supervision of children prior to the mobile home being located at the green area.
Regarding a recent stand-off regarding the lorry that delivered the mobile home, the court heard there was “considerable disquiet”, while on June 15 there was a “tense situation” when supporters of the family arrived on the scene.
Mr McCarthy said the local authority is conscious that children are involved and that it has made an offer of emergency accommodation to the family.
Mr O’Donoghue handed in a letter from the family’s doctors and also proof of purchase of the mobile home. Regarding the caravan, Mr O’Donoghue said: “It was too old, your honour. “
He said his youngest child, born last year, has been too sick to stay in the caravan: “If I didn’t get this mobile home, your honour, I would have lost my baby.”
Mr McCarthy said the family has applied for social housing and “at present there isn’t anything available”.
As for the offer of emergency accommodation, he accepted this is not satisfactory, but added: “Trespassing cannot be justified by the unfortunate housing situation of the defendants”.
Mr O’Donoghue queried why an offer of emergency accommodation had not been made when the family was living in the caravan.
“I don’t mind it being moved,” he said of the mobile home. “Just give us running water and electricity.”
Judge O’Callaghan granted the injunction allowing the removal of the mobile home, but not the caravan.
Mr O’Donoghue said: “That caravan is on the brink of collapsing.
“My child nearly died over that small caravan. That is why I got a loan to get this mobile home.”
The judge directed that the defendants remove the mobile home from the property within 12 hours, after which the council could do so “with or without the assistance of an Garda Síochána”.
A van was seen hauling the mobile home away last night.
He said the cost should be borne by the defendants and the local authority is at liberty to dispose of the mobile home if costs are an issue.
He adjourned the separate application regarding the caravan until July 13 and said the defendants have liberty to file a defence in that regard.