Tesco injuncts Sinn Féin's Ellis over picket of Ballymun depot

The High Court has agreed to continue an injunction obtained by Tesco Ireland against Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis and several SIPTU members following what the supermarket chain alleges was an unlawful picket outside one of its depots.

Tesco injuncts Sinn Féin's Ellis over picket of Ballymun depot

The High Court has agreed to continue an injunction obtained by Tesco Ireland against Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis and several SIPTU members following what the supermarket chain alleges was an unlawful picket outside one of its depots.

The protest, the court heard, arises out a dispute involving SIPTU and Stobart Ireland Drivers Services Ltd, who are contracted by Tesco to distributes all of the products it keeps at depots at Ballymun and Donabate in Dublin.

Tesco Ireland is not involved in a dispute with SIPTU. However the company claimed that arising out of that dispute a blockade of its Ballymun deport that commenced yesterday evening that it claimed seriously interfered with its business.

Tesco claimed that the atmosphere outside the Ballymun depot became so menacing that the gardaí informed them that they were considering using batons on the picketers.

Late last night High Court judge Mr justice Gerard Hogan granted Tesco Ireland Ltd an interim injunction against Deputy Ellis and four others who the court heard are members of the SIPTU Trade Union.

The judge made orders preventing the defendants and others from picketing outside the warehouses at Ballymun and at Donabate in north Co Dublin save for seven persons at any given time who attend solely for the purpose of a peaceful protest and in accordance with the Industrial Relations Act.

Today when the matter returned before the High Court Mr Justice Hogan adjourned the matter to a date after being informed by Roddy Horan SC for Tesco that "peace had broken out."

After the gardaí informed the protesters about the High Court injunction the picketers had dispersed, counsel said.

However Counsel said his clients wanted the injunctions continued.

In seeking the injunctions Tesco claimed the defendants had engaged in illegal activity including trespass and unlawful obstruction at the entrance of the warehouse.

Tesco added that its contractors and employees were unable to exit or enter the warehouse, which is used to store fresh fruit and vegetables as well as chilled and frozen goods.

In an affidavit to court seeking the injunction Tesco's Head of Employee Relations Frank Timmins said that the presence of what he said were between 80 protesters was "extremely intimidating indeed."

As the crowd grew "the atmosphere became extremely menacing," he added.

Mr Timmins said the gardaí informed another Tesco executive they were "considering using batons on the picketers."

Deputy Ellis, who represented himself at today's hearing, said it was baffling that he had been summoned to court and made a party to this action.

The Sinn Féin TD for Dublin North West said Tesco's action against him it was "an attack on democracy by a big company" against his rights as a public representative.

He said that as the protest happened in his constituency he went to the depot, spoke to people "to find out what was going on". He said that he was there for between 30 and 45 minutes, and had not taken part in the picket.

He was also critical of the tactics he said are being used by Tesco and Stobards.

He said he took except to "a man in a balaclava" going around with a camera taking photographs of people outside the depot.

If he himself he was to go around in balaclava he would soon find himself brought before the courts, the TD said.

Deputy Ellis said he intends to bring a motion that he be taken out of the proceedings.

Solicitor Mr Kieran O'Brien, who the Court heard has represented SIPTU in similar matters said he knew nothing about the action until 30 minutes before the court commenced.

He was not on record for any of the defendants and needed time to take instructions. He agreed that matter should be put back to a date next month.

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