Activist happy to have his day in court

He’s been taking on the establishment for the last 120 days at the Occupy Cork camp, so representing himself in Cork Circuit Court yesterday was no big deal.

Liam Mullaney, who is among several activists who have been occupying a building in Cork city since Christmas Day, cut a lone figure in courtroom number two as legal representatives of the building’s developer, Padlake Ltd, sought an injunction requiring him and his group to leave.

Sporting a fresh short-back-and-sides haircut and dressed in a sombre grey suit, white shirt and thin black tie, he listened from the witness box as James Duggan, counsel for Padlake, outlined why his client was seeking the injunction against Mr Mullaney, Patrick Buckley, Mark John Redmond and others occupying Stapleton House on Oliver Plunkett St.

Mr Buckley and Mr Redmond were not in court.

The matter is “very urgent”, Mr Duggan told Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin.

The building is unfinished and unsafe and his client, the barrister said, was concerned someone occupying the building could suffer an injury if they fell down a lift shaft.

Insurers have also expressed concerns about the situation, he added.

But there were sniggers from Mr Mullaney’s supporters, who sat at the back of the courtroom, when Mr Duggan mentioned a céilí the group staged in the building earlier this month.

The judge cautioned Mr Mullaney against saying anything in court until he had legal representation.

But Mr Mullaney persisted and said he had a list of all those who had attended the céilí, and that they had all signed a “waiver” stating they were aware of the condition of the building, and were entering of their own volition.

Mr Mullaney tried to submit some documents to the court but the judge said: “I have no objection to you getting a solicitor.”

Following some legal argument about the service of summons last Friday, the judge agreed to adjourn the matter.

He told Mr Mullaney to consult with a solicitor, to have an affidavit prepared by 2pm on Friday and to be back in court on Monday, when the case will proceed.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Mullaney said he was glad the group occupying the building, Cork Community Resource Centre, will have its day in court.

But he said all his savings are gone and paying for legal representation will be difficult.

“I’m stoney broke, and will be looking for a bit of help on that one,” he said.

He defended the group’s stance and said: “We need these resources [the building], we need them to be opened up, we need more transparency in Nama, and we need more public involvement in the management of that property, because we bloody well own it.

“We want to show people that these are the types of things you can do, through social entrepreneurship, and create employment.”

But when asked if the group will leave the court if directed next Monday, Mr Mullaney said: “The law of the land is the law of the land.”

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