Political activist faces jail threat for trespass

A threat of jail continues to hang over Ben Gilroy, a founder of the political movement Direct Democracy Ireland, over alleged contempt of court orders restraining trespass and interference with receivers appointed over a stud farm lands in Co Kildare.

The lands, excluding the family home of the stud farm’s former owner, Eugene McDermott, were finally sold last month by Mark Reynolds and Glenn Crann, joint receivers appointed by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation in late 2011 arising from default on a €814,000 debt secured on the lands.

The 120-acre Kennycourt Stud in Brannockstown, Naas, was the scene of angry anti-repossession demonstrations in August, when it is alleged fences and barriers erected by the receivers were torn down and signs declaring the lands subject to Brehon law were erected.

The receivers allege 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. Mr Allen told them the lands were now controlled by him under a “trust”, they allege.

In an affidavit, Mr Reynolds said, when he asked for the names of those men, he and others with him were told by some of the men to “fuck off” and some of his team were described as “English fuckers”, “scum-bag in a suit” and a “dwarf”.

Arising from those and other claims, contempt proceedings were issued against Mr Gilroy, Mr Allen and Mr McDermott.

At 8.45am yesterday, Mr Gilroy was arrested at his home in Navan, Co Meath, on foot of a warrant issued by the High Court to the receivers, and brought before Mr Justice Sean Ryan to answer allegations of contempt.

Warrants for the arrests of Mr McDermott and Mr Allen — of the Rodolphus Allen private trust, set up in an effort to prevent land repossessions — for the purpose of being brought before the court to answer claims of contempt, remain unexecuted.

Several supporters of Mr Gilroy were in court for yesterday’s hearing, when he denied contempt and disputed that the contempt proceedings had been properly served on him.

Without prejudice to his denial of contempt, Mr Gilroy agreed to provide an undertaking not to trespass on the lands or interfere with the receivers.

In light of this undertaking, Michael Howard SC, with Rory Mulcahy, for the receivers, said they would agree to the matter being adjourned to allow Mr Gilroy to file replying affidavits.

The judge adjourned the receivers’ application to commit Mr Gilroy to prison over alleged contempt to Nov 15 and directed that Mr Gilroy file his replying affidavits within two weeks.

The stud farm has been at the centre of a complex legal battle involving Mr McDermott and financial institutions. Separately, Bank of Scotland last July secured a €7m judgement against Mr McDermott at the Commercial Court.


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