Various instances of public nuisance are prohibited by the Public Health Act. These include:
- allowing stagnant water to remain in a dwelling house when required to remove it;
allowing the contents of a water closet or cess pit to flow into the ground;
keeping pigs in a dwelling house.
A sanitary authority may by notice, require owners or occupiers to remove any nuisance or offensive matter.
A statutory nuisance includes
- Any premises which is injurious to health:
- Any pools, ditch, gutter, water course, cesspool, privy, urinal or drain which is a nuisance or injurious to health;
- An animal kept so as to be a nuisance or injurious to health;
- Any accumulation or deposit which is a nuisance or injurious to health;
- Any house or part of a house so overcrowded so as to be dangerous or injurious to the health of those inhabiting
- Any fireplace or furnace which does not consume the smoke from the fire.
- Any cistern used for the supply of water for domestic purposes so placed, constructed, or kept as to render the water therein liable to contamination, causing or likely to cause risk to health;
- Any gutter, drain, shoot, stack-pipe, or down-spout of a building which by reason of its insufficiency or its defective condition shall cause damp in such building or in an adjoining building; and
- Any deposit of material in or on any building or land which shall cause damp in such building or in an adjoining building so as to be dangerous or injurious to health;
The sanitary authority has power to inspect nuisance and require their abatement. Complaints may be made in respect to nuisances by private person. If the complaint is made to the sanitary authority and it is satisfied that a nuisance exists, it may serve a notice on the persons whose act or default has caused the nuisance or the owner or occupier of the premises (where the other persons cannot be found) requiring him to abate the nuisance. Where the person responsible cannot be found, the sanitary authority itself may abate the nuisance without further notice.
If the person on whom notice is served fails to abate the nuisance or the nuisance is likely to recur, the sanitary authority may bring proceedings against the person concerned. If the District Court is satisfied that the nuisance exists or may recur, it may make an order requiring abatement to the nuisance. It is an offence subject to a penalty to fail to comply. The cost of the application may also be charged.
An order may be made prohibiting use of a house which is unfit for human habitation. The public health legislation in respect of overcrowded houses has been superseded by housing legislation. See our separate chapter in relation to housing legislation. Other aspects have been superseded by more detailed legislation on waste, air pollution and water pollution.
A failure to comply with the court order in respect to the abatement of the nuisance is an offence subject to continuing daily fines. If the person aggrieved may appeal the court order to the Circuit Court.
The Sanitary authority may enter a property in order to investigate a nuisance. Where a nuisance abatement notice has not been complied with, it may enter the property and take all steps required to abate the nuisance.
It may apply for a court order if necessary. Failure to obey a court order is in itself an offence.
Any person affected by a nuisance may make a complaint to court. The court may authorize members of An Garda Siochana to enter the premises to inspect it.
If the sanitary authority fails to institute proceedings, a complaint may be made to the Department of Environment, which may authorize a member of an Garda Siochana to institute proceedings.