A HOMELESS MEMBER of the Roma community who is seriously ill with inoperable cancer and faces imminent discharge onto the streets from hospital has been granted leave of the High Court to challenge Louth County Council’s refusal to grant him emergency housing.
Barrister Derek Shortall told Justice Paul McDermott that Constantin Rostas was currently an inpatient at Beaumont Hospital where he had attended for a biopsy and he did not know when he would be discharged. It could be imminent.
FLAC solicitor Sinead Lucey had gone to the hospital yesterday and, with the aid of an interpreter, had taken a sworn statement from Rostas as to his circumstances.
Lucey appeared with Shortall in the High Court today seeking to judicially review decisions of Louth County Council and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and to apply for an interlocutory injunction directing he receive emergency accommodation.
Not habitually resident
Rostas, who is 60, and has lived rough on the streets of Drogheda after losing accommodation with his brother, who also became ill, claims he had been told by Louth County Council it would not provide him with assistance because he was not habitually resident in the State.
A painter and decorator, he said he had come to Ireland for work in 2008 but had been unable to continue working because of illness which had struck him in 2016. He had inoperable cancer in his kidneys and a benign growth in his head, which affected his hearing and sight.
His solicitor had written to the council asking it to provide him with emergency accommodation but there had been no response and since 1 August had no access to homeless services. He had been admitted to Beaumont on 7 August and had been there since.
Rostas stated he was currently assessed as not medically fit to leave hospital but this was subject to re-assessment by a doctor any day and he could be discharged at any time.
He said that while he would not wish to be taking up a bed in a hospital ward unnecessarily he was in no condition health wise to go back to a situation of living rough on the streets.
Rostas said he had been advised that Louth County Council may be relying upon a housing circular issued by the Department and this, too, he seeks to challenge in the High Court. He did not see what damage the County Council would suffer by providing him with emergency accommodation until he was in a position to make a formal application for housing.
Although he was homeless, impecunious and seriously ill, he was willing to give an undertaking as to damages in order to access the courts system.
Judge Mc Dermott granted Rostas, of no fixed abode, leave to apply for judicial review of the Council’s and the Minister’s status as to their decision-making to date.
He will seek a number of declarations including that the County Council is obliged to furnish him with reasons for refusing emergency housing support; that it owed him a special duty because of his exceptional medical issues ad that it erred in law in relying on Departmental administrative circulars rather than regulations.
Judge McDermott also granted him leave to seek an interlocutory injunction compelling the county council to provide him with emergency assistance under the Housing Act and an order directing the council to reconsider its decision.
He will also be allowed to seek declarations that he is a member of an ethnic group which is recognised as vulnerable and requiring special consideration and that, as a citizen of the EU, is entitled to equal treatment. The matter was adjourned until next week.
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