THE chairman of the country's oldest hunt has denied describing two farmer brothers who have filmed the hunt's activities since 2000 as "a pair of paedophiles".
Edward Norris, of Danesrath, Knocktopher, Co Kilkenny, told a defamation case yesterday that he said brothers Norman and Hubert Daniels were "acting like paedophiles".
He admitted making the comment when he met the brothers, of Rathielty, Rathmoyle, Co Kilkenny, outside their land in November 2004, but insisted he did not say they were paedophiles.
The brothers are suing Mr Norris, the head of the Kilkenny Hunt, for defamation, while Mr Norris has lodged a counter-claim for harassment.
Kilkenny Circuit Court heard yesterday that damage was caused to the Daniels' land in 2000 by a hunt pack, although it was not the Kilkenny Hunt.
Since then the brothers have been video recording any hunt activities near their land.
Hubert Daniels said that on November 12, 2004 he was "encircled" by the defendant when the hunt was in the area.
"He shoved his face into my face and, at one point, his nose came in contact," he said. He was "frightened", he said, and subsequently heard Mr Norris saying that he and his brother were "a pair of paedophiles".
His counsel, Shane English, asked how he felt about this, and Mr Daniels said: "I felt that hatred, wickedness and evil had come into my presence.
"I felt devastated, dehumanised, degraded, down to the level of a dirty paedophile."
Mr Norris had "stated that myself and my brother are a pair of paedophiles, one of the most evil creatures on this earth, in my opinion".
He did not record children who were part of the hunt, but a "collective group" of hunts people, he said. No locals had ever complained to him about the recording.
However, Johnny Walsh BL, for Mr Norris, said the court case was actually about land.
The court heard an agreement was drawn up with the late Major Victor McAlmont in 1978 stating that in the event of the Kilkenny Hunt ever being disbanded, the Daniels could buy a piece of land known as the Foxcover for £1,100.
Mr Walsh put it to Mr Daniels that this was what the court case was about.
"If you can get the hunt disbanded, the Foxcover will come your way for a price agreed in 1978," he said.
Mr Daniels denied it was about that piece of land.
Mr Norris said the Kilkenny Hunt was the oldest of its kind in the country, dating from 1797.
From 2000, he said, the Daniels had never failed to turn up at the hunt to record it any time it passed by their lands.
Parents were complaining to him about their children being filmed, he said.
On November 12, 2004, Mr Norris told the plaintiffs they were "acting like a pair of paedophiles", he said.
He said he told them to "go away and leave the kids and the hunt alone".
He told the court he did not say they were a pair of paedophiles, and he didn't believe either of them was a paedophile, nor did any member of the hunt or the local community.
The case was adjourned until February 4.