Woman, 72, loses action in land row with Government minister

A 72-year-old woman has lost her civil action in a land dispute involving a Government minister and his father.

Diane Whitehead initiated civil proceedings against junior transport minister Alan Kelly and his father, Thomas Kelly, aged 74, after a laneway she used to access her field was blocked.

The 72-year-old, who is originally from London moved to North Tipperary in the late 1980s, after buying a four-bedroomed modern bungalow that overlooks Lough Derg outside the village of Portroe.

She claims access to the lane, which she used to get to her field where horses are kept, was blocked by barriers in 2010, around the time her next-door neighbour, Mr Kelly Jr, began renovating his home. Ms Whitehead sought “unfettered access” to the lane which she claimed she half-owned according to maps she presented to Nenagh Circuit Court.

The Kellys disputed her claim, insisting they own the lane, which has been in the family since the 1930s.

Ms Whitehead, who claimed she used the lane for 20 years to access her field, recalled how she wrote several letters to her solicitor to record what she “regarded as harassment and intimidation”.

She admitted that she had installed a camera pointing at Mr Kelly Jr’s house some years ago, but insisted she was not spying on her neighbour.

Mr Kelly Jr said the camera was upsetting for him and his family and was installed at a time when it was publicly known he was receiving death threats.

Dismissing the plaintiff’s claim yesterday, Judge Petria McDonnell said Ms Whitehead had not established title over the disputed laneway, as the previous owners of her land had abandoned any right to the lane and acknowledged the Kelly’s entitlements to it.


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