The High Court has found against a young woman with physical and mental disabilities in her appeal to be rehoused.
The applicant, Elizabeth Mulhare, suffers from cerebral palsy and severe disabilities. She has lived in Fermoy with her mother since 2011. An occupational therapist’s report found the house to be unsuitable for the applicant due to mould and dampness, lack of level access to a shower and no wheelchair access to a bedroom. Cork City Council claimed it had no alternative accommodation available, however offered to renovate the Mulhares house to address the inadequacies in relation to Elizabeth’s needs. The two women brought judicial review proceedings seeking alternative housing within a five-mile radius of Cork city, where Elizabeth attends a clinic for a chronic respiratory condition. The claimants were concerned if they accepted the offer, they would no longer be considered for alternative housing.
Ms Justice Marie Baker ruled that it would be an “impermissible breach” of the constitutional separation of powers between the legislature and judiciary for the court to order Cork County Council to provide the mother and daughter with more suitable housing. Further, the Court could not declare that they should be given priority on the Council’s housing list. While it was open to the Council to override its own priority list in exceptional circumstances, the Court had no power to interfere with the exercise of this choice or assess how it manages its housing stock.
The Court in its ruling also rejected the claimants’ arguments that the failure to provide a more appropriate house breached the right private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court held that Article 8 does not create a positive obligation on the part of a local authority to provide a home.