A decision by Waterford City and County Council not to develop Traveller accommodation in the city has been quashed by consent at the High Court.

Last March, the local authority's elected members voted by 16 votes to two not to go ahead and build a seven-bay halting site at Carrickphierish Road in Waterford.

Sisters-in-law Ellen Delaney and Mary O'Reilly challenged that decision in the High Court.

They said the decision breached the local authorities housing obligations, and ignored various human rights legislation.

This morning, Mr Justice Charles Meenan was told the matter had been resolved and that it had been agreed by both sides that an order could be made quashing the council's decision.

The council is to pay the legal costs.

At a hearing in June, the High Court was told the one of the applicants was living in a camper van, while the other was living in a mobile home, close to the site of the proposed halting site.

They said no proper reason for the decision not to build the halting site was given.

They also claimed that the proposed development was adopted by the elected members in early 2020 by the council as part of its Traveller Accommodation Programme.

The elected members, when discussing the development, wrongly relied on erroneous assertions including that the site was provided as Covid-19 assistance to Travellers, it was also argued.

The elected members had also failed to consider that the nearby Traveller group housing scheme was overcrowded.

They further claimed that the decision was invalid because it was made more than six weeks after the council's Chief Executive recommended in a February 2021 report that construction of the halting site proceed.

In their action against the Council the applicants, represented by solicitors for FLAC, sought an order quashing the elected member's decision.

Reacting to today's development Solicitor Christopher McCann of FLAC Traveller Legal Services said his clients were both young mothers who had been living for years in overcrowded, dangerous and insecure conditions "on the promise that the Council would provide them with a halting site consistent with their culture as Travellers".

He said the Council's refusal to build the site "went back on its promise without any apparent consideration of the effect of doing so on our clients and their children".

FLAC said the need for alternative accommodation was recognised by the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee as early as 2015 when it noted and remarked upon the severely overcrowded conditions that they were living in at the existing Carrickphierish group housing scheme.

Mr McCann added that while the concession was welcome, "our clients remain living in dangerous and overcrowded conditions".

"This situation must be rectified as a matter of urgency and short and long term solutions developed in keeping with the Council’s statutory obligations," he said.

Eilis Barry, Chief Executive of FLAC said the case highlighted the importance of expanding access to justice.

"Without the representation offered through FLAC’s Traveller Legal Service, our clients could not have taken their case and extracted a deserved concession from the Council. It is imperative that the State’s current review of civil legal aid results in root and branch reform and is expanded to offer representation to individuals like our clients in cases like this," she said.