Victory for Shane, 58, as floating home can stay

by Sylvia Pownall

Boat dweller Shane Kennedy has told of his relief after Fingal County Council lost a legal bid to remove his floating home from Balbriggan Harbour and scrap it.
The third-generation sailor – who has been locked in a court battle with the local authority since 2012 – has been told his 100-ton vessel, the Portisham, is safe.

Shane (58) told The Gazette:

“It is a huge relief. I grew up on a barge and the sea is my life. I am now supporting others who have legal problems.”

The Supreme Court allowed Shane’s appeal because the council failed to prove that the boat is on the foreshore, which would require planning permission, whereas a vessel at sea does not.
Dad-of-one Shane bought the boat – built by NATO as a mine sweeper during the Cold War, for the sterling equivalent of €34,000 in 2007, and brought it to Balbriggan in 2010.
He spent €80,000 refurbishing it and his original plan was to transform it into a schooner and sail to the Indian Ocean. But for the past five years he has been fighting a rear-guard action with Fingal County Council.
However, last Thursday, Mr Justice Frank Clarke noted on behalf of the three-judge court that it was “surprising in the extreme” that the council had not offered relevant maps as evidence of boundaries.
The court heard the council had claimed the vessel was unsafe and unseaworthy and would not be permitted into any harbours in its area.
It also heard the local authority took legal action after Mr Kennedy was offered alternative accommodation, which he turned down on the grounds that he deemed it unsuitable.
It claimed to have received a number of complaints about the vessel, including one that it was leaking raw sewage into the sea. This was refuted by Mr Kennedy who said he used the public toilets or those of a nearby hotel.
Afterwards, he said: “This has been an ordeal and the stress of the court case has taken its toll.”
Electronics engineer Shane was honoured at the National Bravery Awards in 2015 in recognition of a heroic rescue in June 2013 when he dived into the harbour and brought a drowning girl to safety.

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