Minister accused of ‘thou shalt not pass’ attitude

A junior government minister and his father have been accused of a “thou shalt not pass” approach in a land dispute involving a an elderly neighbour.

Labour’s Alan Kelly and his father Thomas Kelly, aged 74, say they are rightful owners of a lane Diane Whitehead, aged 72, wants to use to access a field beside her North Tipperary home near Portroe.

Ms Whitehead initiated civil proceedings against the Kellys after access to the lane she claims she had been using for 20 years was blocked.

She claims part-ownership of the lane, as it is townland commonage on maps she presented to Nenagh Circuit Court.

The Kellys dispute the claim, saying they own the lane, which has always been known as “Kellys Lane” and which has been in the family since 1935.

Ms Whitehead said she wants access to a field she owns via the lane, where horses had been allowed to graze for many years.

She claims the lane was blocked in 2010, around the time Mr Kelly Jr began renovating his home

The Kellys say they have no problem with Ms Whitehead using the field to graze horses, but said she had no right to access the field using the lane.

In his closing speech yesterday, counsel for Ms Whitehead, Brian Kearney, said the Kellys appear to be making the case that ownership or possession of a road or lane “is tantamount to the principal of ‘thou shalt not pass’”.

Mr Kearney urged the court “not to lose sight of” of why his client took legal action, adding this was because a barrier was erected on a lane she had used for 20 years.

Judge Petria McDonnell, who visited the lane during the three-day case, will give her ruling at Nenagh Circuit Civil Court today.


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