April 8, 2014
Joe Lynch outside his home at Carrickmore, St Johnston which will not be demolished after a ten year legal battle.

Joe Lynch outside his home at Carrickmore, St Johnston which will not be demolished after a ten year legal battle. Pic by Brian McDaid of the Cristeph Gallery.

A Donegal man who was ordered to demolish his home because it was built in the wrong location has been told it does not have to be bulldozed.

Joe Lynch has been involved in an ongoing legal battle for the past ten years after a neighbour first objected to the house in St Johnson in 2003.

But the father-of-two, who has spent €72,000 on planning appeals and alterations to his house, was told that he does not have to tear the house down.

Letterkenny Circuit Court was told that the neighbour, who spends most of his time in Dundalk, Co Louth, has now stopped objecting to the house.

He claimed the house was built 30 metres west of where it was supposed to be built.

An Bord Pleanala overturned a decision by Donegal County Council granting retaining planning permission on the 3,600 square ft home at Carrickmore on the shores of Lough Foyle.

Mr Lynch had claimed that he moved the house’s position over fears that rising waters would flood his house if he built it at the original location.

At one stage Mr Lynch was ordered by the courts to take the roof off his house and lower the height of the house by 1.2 metres.

He was also ordered to completely demolish the house but a stay was put on that order.

After a series of appeals, the barrister for Donegal County Council, Declan McHugh, told the court that the matter was now resolved after the neighbour withdrew his objection.

Mr Lynch said he was delighted and relieved by the decision and that his “nightmare” of the past ten years had finally been resolved.

“All I can call it is a nightmare. My life and my family’s lives have been on hold for the past ten years.

“That person did not even live next door to us and yet he managed to put us through a pure hell.

“I am glad that he has seen sense but none of this needed to have happened.

“There were times when we could have simply walked away and moved to another area but we decided to fight this.

“We are just relieved that this is now all over and we just want to get back with living the rest of our lives in peace,” said Mr Lynch.

Mr Lynch appeared in court yesterday to find out if he would be held responsible for the cost of up to 30 court appearances.

His barrister Mr Peter Nolan said his client shuld not be held liable for all the costs of the marathon court case.

He said he had already spent €22,000 on planning and other fees and a further €50,000 on alterations to the house.

“He has paid for it four times over and his family has suffered. This would be an added nail on the crucifix of Mr Lynch. He has suffered enough and he has learned his lesson,” he said.

He added that the message will now go out that Donegal County Council will not tolerate breaches of planning permission.

However barrister for Donegal County Council, Declan McHugh, said the message could also go out that “if you play the system for fifteen years you will ultimately get what you want.”

Judge Keenan Johnson described Mr Lynch as a “foolish man” for moving his house from where it was supposed to be built.

However he said he did not want to grant costs against him which could be an “open cheque.”

He ordered Mr Lynch to pay €10,000 in costs and allowed him 24 months to pay the sum.