Greyhound racing protesters apply for injunction to be lifted

Greyhound racing protesters apply for injunction to be lifted
File photo of Shelbourne Park.

The High Court has been asked to lift an injunction limiting the extent of a protest against the greyhound racing industry outside Shelbourne Park.

Late last year the operators of Shelbourne Park, GreyhoundStadium Ltd, secured a temporary injunction preventing the protesters from conducting what has been an ongoing action within 50 meters of the track's entrance.

The injunction prevents six named individuals and any other person who has knowledge of the order from impeding, obstructing or interfering with the access to the stadium.

The protests at the centre of action began earlier this year following an RTE television exposé of certain practices in the greyhound industry.

The operators claim that protests have gone beyond what could be described as being a peaceful protest and claim that protesters had intimidated and verbally abused patrons attending greyhound races at the track.

The claims are denied, and the defendants claim the injunction should be discharged on grounds including that the protests have at all times been peaceful.

The defendants are Laura Broxson and Tawnie Ocampo of Burnell Green, Northern Cross, Malahide, Co. Dublin, Catherine Wood of East Wall Ringsend, Bernie Wright Foxhaven, Shallon, The Ward, Co. Dublin and Conor Brady and Noiren Carrigg both of Carnoustie, Annaghlong, Gorey, in Co. Wexford.

The Irish Council of Civil Liberties (ICCL) which has concerns about the order, has been added as an 'amicus curiae' or friend to the court.

It became involved as it says the case raises important issues concerning the rights to freedom of speech and to assembly.

The action returned before the High Court today when Rossa Fanning SC for the track's operators said his side wants the injunction continued, but on modified terms from what had previously been granted.

The injunction would remain in place pending the full hearing of the dispute.

Counsel said that based on the contents of sworn statements his side were prepared to accept undertakings from the defendants that would allow protests to continue if certain conditions applied.

These conditions include that the protesters would stand in single file on the footpath, protest at least 3.5m from the entrance, confine the content of their banners and slogans to the plight of greyhounds, not lay banners on the ground, and not use megaphones after 8pm.

Counsel said this offer had not been accepted.

His client was asking the court to extend the injunction but to amend its terms to those offered to the defendants.

In reply, the six defendants, represented by Peter Blande SC and Conor Devalley SC, said that the protests have at all times been peaceful aimed to highlight what they say is a cruel industry that should be banned.

They argued that the injunction should be lifted and rejected claims that the protesters had behaved in a poor manner as alleged.

There was no basis for the continuation of the order, they claim.

They claimed that in the course of their peaceful protests they have been the subject of sexist, racist and misogynistic language from a small number of greyhound racing supporters.

They also said that leaflets that were posted to residents living near the stadium encouraging them "to help shut down the stadium," and threatened "severe measures" against their property had nothing to with them.

This was accepted by the track operators.

The protesters also claimed that the leaflets were distributed by somebody who wanted to discredit the protests.

One of the protesters Bernie Wright said in her sworn statement that the leaflets were "black propaganda".

The hearing before Mr Justice Tony O'Connor continues.

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