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EUROPEAN LAW TEST CASE OVER FOREIGN CARE HOME REQUEST

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court ref no: CO/0472/95 ...
court ref no: CO/0472/95

An elderly London resident paralysed by a stroke is seeking a legal ruling that Camden LBC is obliged under European law to pay for her to go into a nursing home back in her Irish homeland.

A high court judge yesterday gave Lilian Kennedy, 63, from Tipperary, who worked in London most of her life, permission to apply for a declaration that the council must comply with her request, even though it is contrary to UK domestic regulations.

Mr Justice Tuckey said the case, which concerns the rights of EU workers, had wide implications and should be heard as soon as possible.

Wheelchair-bound Mrs Kennedy first came to England in 1954 and worked as a cleaner and housekeeper, all the time living in Camden, until she retired two years ago.

At present she is a patient at Queen Mary's Hospital, Hampstead. Last year council social workers agreed her needs could be best met if she was placed in a nursing home near her extended family in Clough Jordan, Co. Tipperary.

But council officers decided that government regulations restricted placements to England and Wales and prevented the council from paying for Mrs Kennedy to go to the Republic.

Her solicitor, Angela Hanmore, said after the hearing:

'Mrs Kennedy's quality of life will clearly be affected if she cannot return home to her extended family.

'If she were to be sent back it would actually result in a cost saving for the council as home provision in Ireland is much cheaper than in London, where it ranges from £550 to £650-a-week.'

It will be argued at the full hearing that Mrs Kennedy as a retired EU worker, has the right to the same publicly- funded services as other English residents, and the local authority has power to buy her accommodation in the area of her choice, subject to its suitability, availability and cost.

Her lawyers will contend that Mrs Kennedy's community law rights take precedence over the domestic regulations, which should be disapplied in her case to allow her to travel home to Tipperary.

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