Inishowen’s ‘neigbours from Hell’

There have been 111 complaints over the past five years about anti-social behaviour in County Council housing estates in Inishowen with five families currently seeking transfer citing anti-social behaviour as a factor.

Those statistics were elicited from council by Inishowen councillor Jack Murray who said that while people could be living beside the ‘neighbours from hell’ he was shocked to learn Donegal County Council would be unable to evict tenants guilty of such unacceptable behaviour due to national legislation.

Speaking with the ‘Journal’ the Sinn Fein representative said: “Donegal County Council received 343 anti-social behaviour complaints over the past five years covering a range of matters such as late night parties and noise, behaviour of children, adult neighbour disputes, car issues, damage to property, rubbish, graffiti, backyard burning etc.

“These incidents can have a significant impact on the quality of life of families and communities across the county.

“While council staff do exhaustive work to resolve these issues, it is deeply worrying that there are currently 25 families seeking a housing transfer as a result of anti-social behaviour.

“No-one should be forced to leave their home because of the behaviour of others. As such, I firmly believe that those responsible for torturing their neighbours should go – not the other way about.

“Eviction should be an option of last resort and should only happen after consultation with Gardaí and other relevant agencies, mediation between neighbours, and after all other avenues have been exhausted. Yet national legislation prevents the council from evicting anyone. I am now calling for this legislation to be amended.

“I have spoken to Sinn Féin’s Housing Spokesperson, Dessie Ellis TD, who has assured me that, if the government does not act, Sinn Féin will move a bill to do so. I hope that this will go someway to protecting the families who live in Donegal County Council homes.”

Responding to Councillor Murray a spokesperson for the council said: “Many activities of this type are difficult to define because they are subjective – normal standards of behaviour for one household or individual may be unacceptable to another. “

The spokesperson added while the Council have, in many cases issued warning letters to tenants in relation to breaches of their tenancy agreement as a result of anti-social behaviour, there have been no formal court orders or evictions obtained. There have been a number of court challenges in the past in relation to the powers available to Local Authorities in terms of seeking an order for eviction. The Department are presently examining the legislation in light of the recent court judgements, whereby amending legislation may be prepared.”