Shatter: Gardaí monitor freeman laws

Justice Minster Alan Shatter has revealed that the controversial freeman of the land trusts are being monitored by the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

Mr Shatter said he had spoken with Mr Callinan about the developments in the freeman movement since the arrest of trust organiser Charles Allen in Cork last month.

That arrest followed Mr Allen’s attempt to claim a Georgian property on the Tivoli Rd using private trust documents which have been described as “nonsense” by two High Court judges.

When the Garda Emergency Response Unit was called to the Tivoli Rd incident, a shotgun was found at the scene and an injunction was taken out preventing Mr Allen from moving back onto the land.

Mr Shatter had been asked by Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins to expand on the work of the gardaí in relation to an increasing number of freeman schemes.

Mr Shatter said he would not elaborate on the police engagement because he did not want to prejudice ongoing Garda investigations.

But he said he shared the concerns expressed in the High Court by Mr Justice Sean Ryan that the trust was potentially engaged in unsavoury activity.

Mr Shatter said the trust established by Mr Allen should not have been given any credibility by debtors or the media.

He also issued a warning that people who are in desperate situations should not be drawn in by “spurious legal constructs that are presented to them by individuals who have agendas and individuals who do not have legal expertise”.

Mr Collins had raised the issue in the Dáil in order to establish what was being done to police the operation of the trust and other groups linked to the freeman of the land ideology.

He said fraudulent activity had been allowed to carry on unchecked.

Mr Collins said there needed to be greater emphasis on policing these schemes while they were still raising funds and defrauding people.

He said there was a tendency to wait until scams collapsed and the “ill-gotten gains had been bagged and [the operator] has rode off into the sunset”.

Last month, Mr Allen was arrested at Lotamore on foot of a bench warrant issued after he was deemed to be in contempt for failing to answer allegations that he trespassed on a stud farm in Kildare during a high-profile protest during which receivers were ousted from the property.

When he appeared in court, Mr Allen apologised for his actions and purged his contempt.

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