Couple settle damages case over house razed in error

© The Irish Indpendent

A couple whose home was demolished without prior notice to them for the construction of a dual carriageway have settled their High Court damages action.

Brian and Mary O’Shaughnessy claimed the last eight and a half years had been a nightmare after their single storey two-bedroom old Irish farmhouse, at Annaholty, Birdhill, Co Tipperary was razed to the ground and the site cleared on September 6, 2006 as part of the N7 Nenagh to Limerick dual carriageway work.

As a result of the loss of their home, which the couple were renovating at the time, they sought damages for alleged negligence from a number of parties including Limerick County Council and the National Roads Authority (NRA), who it was claimed was responsible for overseeing the scheme.

They also sued RPS Consulting Engineers Ltd and EGIS Route Scetauroute SA (a joint venture in the name of RPS Scetauroute JV), which were contracted to build the road, and Midland Fencing Ltd, which was subcontracted by the joint venture and carried out the demolition of the O’Shaughnessys’ home.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Donald Binchy was informed by Michael O’Donnell BL, for the O’Shaughnessys, they had settled their action and they were now “out of the case.” The terms of the settlement are confidential.

However, the court also heard, the action is proceeding between the defendants to determine which of them is liable for the demolition of the property.

The defendants all deny they were negligent.

Limerick Co Council/the NRA, the joint venture, and the subcontractor have all served each other with notices of contribution and indemnity saying the other was responsible for what happened.

The council and the NRA accept the house was wrongfully demolished, and the couple are entitled to compensation.

The contractors, in their denial, reject the claim the property constituted a dwelling house or that it wrongfully demolished the property.

Midland Fencing says it was told by the contractors to demolish a number of properties along the route of the N7, including the O’Shaughnessys’, which it described as derelict, dilapidated, unfurnished and uninhabited.

When the case opened earlier this week, the High Court heard the O’Shaughnessys bought the house for IR£34,500 in 1998.

They were informed by the NRA in 2003 their home was not required to complete the project. Other houses in Annaholty were acquired and demolished in order to construct the dual carriageway.

The couple planned to renovate their home, and monies were borrowed. Planning permission was also sought from the local authority.

On the evening of September 6, 2006, Mary O’Shaughnessy decided to collect post at the house. When she arrived, the house was gone.

Initially she thought she was “at the wrong place.” When she realised what had happened to their home she became very upset. “I got such a shock. I froze really,” she said. “I just could not understand it.”

They had no prior indication or notice that the house was to be demolished.

All they had received was two payments from the council of €10,000 each.

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