Gardaí probe arson attacks on farm

Paul O'Shea arrives at court for an action in which a receiver was seeking to secure possession of sheds on his property. Picture: Courts Collins

Gardaí probe arson attacks on farm

Gardaí are investigating separate suspected arson attacks on a farm whose owners had agreed to buy land at the centre of a dispute between a Kildare farmer and a bank-appointed receiver, the High Court has heard.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan was yesterday told that the family whose property was attacked have withdrawn from a deal to acquire land owned by Paul O’Shea at Davidstown, Castledermot, Co Kildare.

Stephen Byrne, for receiver George Maloney, told the court that while they were not alleging Mr O’Shea was involved or had anything to do with those matters, the incidents were “clearly linked” to the dispute concerning Mr O’Shea’s lands.

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The first incident occurred last Tuesday when, in the early hours of the morning, a petrol bomb was thrown through the window of a house where a woman in her 80s was asleep.

The second occurred during the early hours of yesterday morning when a milking parlour, shed, and farm machinery at the same property were destroyed in a fire. Five cows were burnt to death.

Giving evidence, Garda Superintendent Martin Walker said the two matters are the subject of ongoing Garda investigations.

Regarding the first incident, Supt Walker said an “improvised Molotov cocktail” was thrown through the window of a house occupied by an elderly woman. Luckily her son was there to put out the fire, he said, adding that two unused petrol bombs were found at the scene.

In the second incident, it was already estimated at least €60,000 worth of damage had been done. That figure was expected to rise, Supt Walker said. Both attacks were at properties owned by a family who had agreed to buy Mr O’Shea’s land from the receiver.

Details of the attacks were outlined in proceedings brought by Mr Maloney aimed at securing possession of the sheds on Mr O’Shea’s property.

Attempts by Mr Maloney, of Tilly, Ryan, Glennon, to take possession were met with opposition from Mr O’Shea and other parties including anti-eviction activists, he claims. Arising out of this, Mr Maloney wants Mr O’Shea committed to prison for alleged contempt of court.

Mr O’Shea said he cannot hand over the sheds as that would allow the receiver sell his family farm. He disputes the validity of the receiver’s appointment and argues he is not entitled to possession of his lands.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan, who said he was not taking the incidents being investigated by the gardaí into account, warned Mr O’Shea he faces prison unless possession of the sheds is handed over to Mr Maloney.

He said if Mr O’Shea agreed to comply with the order, he would ensure a full hearing of his dispute with the receiver is fastracked.

The matter was adjourned to today.

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