Ben Gilroy, a founder of the political movement Direct Democracy Ireland, has told the High Court he was “invited” onto stud farm lands in Kildare and had not acted in contempt of orders restraining interference with bank-appointed receivers to the lands.
Michael Howard, for the receivers, said they had video evidence supporting their claim that Mr Gilroy was “centrally involved” in “very unsavoury events” last August when up to 300 people were “encouraged onto” lands at Kennycourt Stud, Brannockstown, near Naas.
The receivers also had a promotional film of Mr Gilroy’s organisation showing Mr Gilroy giving a speech to the crowd on the lands and a recording of an interview with Mr Gilroy on an internet radio station where he “took credit” for forcing the receivers off the lands, Mr Howard said.
This was not just about economic interest, as there was also a photo of a security guard, a man “just doing his job,” “being subjected to a vicious assault by the mob”, counsel said.
As Mr Howard said that, there were cheers from a number of the dozens of supporters of Mr Gilroy who attended court yesterday when the contempt proceedings came before Mr Justice Sean Ryan.
Mr Gilroy, representing himself, disputed the receivers’ claim he was properly served with the orders. He would never break court orders intentionally and had respect for the court, he said.
He said he was invited onto the stud farm lands by Charles Allen — of the Rodolphus Allen private trust set up in an effort to prevent repossessions — and had not organised the event on the lands.
He was “induced” by legal documents seen by him concerning the lands and was invited there by the “new owners”.
“I would not have been there if I thought I was in breach of the order,” he said.
Asked by the judge about the events last August, Mr Gilroy said violent conduct “is not in my nature”. While he had pushed a gate closed, that was “good-natured” and occurred after someone said something about cattle getting out.
Mr Howard said the receivers had since sold the lands and the owner of the lands, Eugene McDermott, had this week purged his contempt of court orders and apologised. Mr Gilroy was taking “a very different attitude”, he said.
Mr Justice Ryan told Mr Gilroy court orders must be obeyed and enforced.
Given the dispute between the sides, the judge said there must be a full hearing of all the evidence and he fixed that for Jan 21.
The 120 acres, excluding the family home of Mr McDermott, were sold last month by the joint receivers appointed by IBRC in late 2011, arising from default on a €814,000 debt secured on the lands.
The receivers alleged Mr Gilroy and Charles Allen were among about eight men using Mr McDermott’s house on Aug 28 as a base to encroach on the lands under the receivers’ control and that Mr Allen told them he now controlled the lands under a “trust”.
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