“I am not a criminal. I never did anything wrong in my life. I am forced into this position,” Claire Knowles told a High Court judge at the Four Courts yesterday.
Ms Knowles, on bail pending the outcome of an inquiry into the legality of her detention in Limerick Prison, told Mr Justice Richard Humphreys and a courtroom packed with her supporters yesterday she is “a mother and grandmother” who worked for “the State airline” for years, was never in prison before, and was entitled to natural justice and fair procedures.
It was up to the banks, not the governor of the prison to justify the legality of her detention and the State should “concede”, she added.
There was an issue about the title in the warrant for her detention, which was originally in the name of ICS Building Society but later amended to the Governor and Company of Bank of Ireland, she argued.
The bank’s papers were incorrect, her case involved a “non-statutory ad hoc process devoid of legal effect”, and there was widespread confusion about possession orders sought by banks.
Mr Justice Humphreys told Ms Knowles that the banks were not involved in this inquiry under Article 40 of the Constitution into the legality of her detention.
While the State applied to the court to join the relevant financial institutions, he refused the application as it was for the State to justify the legality, he said.
The judge adjourned to Tuesday the hearing of the inquiry after Remy Farrell, counsel for the governor of Limerick Prison, said he needed an adjournment to allow for production of a transcript of the digital recording of the December 8 Cork Circuit Court proceedings concerning Ms Knowles.
Ms Knowles was held in Limerick Prison on December 8-10, when Mr Justice Humphreys ordered her release on her own bail of €100, with a condition that she stay away from her home, pending full determination of the Article 40.
Ms Knowles, aged 56, representing herself in the Article 40 proceedings, told the court that she is separately appealing an order for possession of her home at The Pines, Castlejayne Woods, Glanmire, Co Cork.