Judge to look at charters in fish war

A JUDGE is to look at laws and charters going back to pre-Magna Carta days in a bid to settle a dispute over Dublin City Council’s legal right to lease out the fishing interests of the River Liffey.

Judge Joseph Mathews was initially asked to rule on a fish war between anglers and a private developer who is alleged to have illegally built a private jetty out into the tidal river.

Dublin and District Salmon Anglers’ Association Ltd claim that entrepreneur David Wright, of West Pier, Howth, Co Dublin, is trespassing and disturbing the peace and calm of the river, a lure for salmon fishermen.

When barrister Edward Farrelly, counsel for Wright, stated he would be challenging the entitlement of the local authority to have leased the river to the Anglers’ Association in the first place, Judge Mathews was asked to rule on the preliminary issue prior to a full trial of the case.

David McParland, who appeared for the salmon anglers, told the court the association, of Wellington Park, Terenure, Dublin, believed Mr Wright was trespassing.

He said the association had leased the exclusive fishing rights between Hermitage Golf Club on one side and Chapelizod on the other, stretching from the Rory O’Moore Bridge to The Weir at Islandbridge, Dublin.

They allege Wright is the owner of two semi-detached dwelling houses at Swan Lake, Chapelizod Road, Dublin, and that in May 2008 he built a double jetty from the rear of the houses into the river.

Mr McParland told the court that two floating pontoons attached to the jetty could be let out into the river or retrieved by use of a rope.

He said the association would claim a motor boat was moored to one of the pontoons.

The court heard that the association, under its lease, was obliged to protect the fishery from trespass or poaching.

It was alleged the jetty and pontoons were creating a nuisance and interfering with the association’s peaceful use of the fishery.

The association is seeking a court order restraining Wright from continuing with the alleged trespass and is seeking damages for trespass.

It claims, through pre-Magna Carta charters going back to the times of King Henry II who died in 1189, that the citizens of Dublin and the city council through its predecessors had inherited title to the water and rock-bed of the River Liffey.

Mr Farrelly said the Oireachtas had, under the Foreshore Act 1933, granted the Minister for the Marine statutory powers to lease areas of the foreshore and tidal rivers.

He said there were no such powers in existence permitting Dublin City Council to lease the river. The council itself had been set up under statutory powers granted by the Oireachtas.

Judge Mathews adjourned his decision on the preliminary issue.

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