Farmer and son won't hand over land sold off by Bank of Ireland
A FATHER and son, who owe the banks about €250,000, have vowed they will go to jail before they hand over 35 acres of their farm on foot of a possession order.
John Devaney (64) and his son Jonathan (33), from Templeview, Easkey, Co Sligo, used boulders and farm machinery to block the entrances to their farm yesterday to prevent the seizure of the mortgaged land, which was sold by Bank of Ireland last month.
Bailiffs, gardai and representatives from the bank descended on the rural farm from early morning but left by mid-afternoon after being unable to gain access to the land, on which a number of livestock are grazing.
In 1999, the pair received a loan from Bank of Ireland to buy the land -- which they had been renting for a number of years -- but have since fallen into financial difficulty.
They acknowledge that this meant they were unable to meet their mortgage payments and they could only discharge their debt to Bank of Ireland by way of asset disposal.
They offered the proceeds of the sale of an alternative plot of land, claiming that loss of the 35 acres in question would fragment their farm and make it unviable. Instead, the bank continued with the tendering process and closed the sale of the land yesterday.
Speaking at his farm during yesterday's stand-off, John, a father-of-five, described it as a very traumatic day.
"I don't know what is going to happen. We are probably going to end up in jail for obstructing the peace. I wouldn't fancy going to jail but if I have to I will," he said. "I have never had a problem with the law in my life and to see squad cars . . . it's a pretty wild sight."
Richard Rea, agent for the Devaneys, claimed the family's request for a meeting with the bank's solicitors had been refused. "The bank has failed to engage with us despite the fact that at all times the Devaneys were prepared to sell an alternative 38.5 acres," he added.
He pointed out that if the bank proceeded it would be impossible for Jonathan to re-establish a once-thriving dairy enterprise or any other livestock enterprise.
A spokesperson for Bank of Ireland said it did not comment on individual cases.