An injunction has been granted by the High Court preventing anyone from interfering with the auction of 1,000 cattle belonging to Cork dairy farmers who were winners of RTÉ’s Ireland’s Fittest Family programme.

The auction is due to take place today at the farm of Peter and Tracey Kingston at Cradenhill, Nohoval, Co Cork.

In proceedings brought by Sinead McNamara, the sheriff of Co Cork, the High Court heard the injunction was sought because of fears protesters intended to prevent and disrupt the sale of the herd.

The sheriff said a recent post on the Facebook page of the Land League or the New Land League and their spokesman Jerry Beades shows an intention to prevent the auction from going ahead, which will lead to considerable expense.

Jerry Beades: Facebook post of ‘intention to stop auction’.
Jerry Beades: Facebook post of ‘intention to stop auction’.

Efforts were made by the sheriff to contact Mr Beades in a bid to secure an undertaking that he and those acting with the group would not seek to interfere with the auction. No such undertaking was provided, the court heard.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan granted orders preventing any members of either the Land League or the New Land League and Mr Beades from interfering with or disrupting the auction.

The court also prevented the defendants from attending at the farm from midnight last night. The orders apply to any person who has knowledge of the order.

The injunction was granted on an ex-parte basis and the matter will come back before the court again next week. The judge granted liberty to apply on 24 hours’ notice to the court should the need arise.

Seeking the injunction Frank Callanan, for the sheriff, said last April, ACC Loan Management secured judgment against the Kingstons for €2.45m, arising out of their failure to repay loans.

David Swinburne of KPMG was appointed receiver over the property. The sheriff took possession of the property last December Counsel said his client took responsibility for the cattle. Ms McNamara said she was shocked by the condition of the herd and property when she took possession.

The was no feed, running water or suitable bedding for the animals, leading to widespread lameness. Debtors had taken all machinery including tractors.

The sheriff had to employ farmer managers from the Netherlands, hire a vet, buy feed and hire contractors to deal with the water problems.

An article in the media, described as misleading and factually incorrect, had described the proposed auction as a fire sale, counsel said. This was certainly not the case, counsel said.

The sheriff had put in a lot of time and effort in order to maintain the herd, which includes pedigree Holstein cattle, so its maximum value can be realised.

Counsel said a lot of work has gone into the sale and they are now ready for export. The cattle have also been clipped and washed.

International buyers are expected to attend. If the sale did not go ahead, counsel said it was feared the international buyers would lose interest and would not return if the auction did not proceed.

There was no interest domestically for the herd due to the price of milk.

If no international buyer was interested the cattle would be sold for slaughter for a significantly lower price, counsel added.

The protest would diminish the value of the herd. Counsel said the herd had lost all value as elite animals as the Kingstons had stopped recording or registering the animals which are prerequisites for any pedigree herd.

The Kingstons were winners of the RTÉ TV show Ireland’s Fittest Family presented by Clare hurling manager David Fitzgerald.


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