Farmer's squatters' rights claim on €3m land rejected by High Court
The High Court has cleared the way for the auction of 20 acres of land - once worth €3m and now selling for around half a million - after rejecting an application for an injunction by a farmer who claimed ownership by virtue of squatters' rights.
Peter O'Reilly says because no legal action was taken against him since 1998 to remove his grazing cattle from the land on the edge of Cavan town, he now owns it under the law of adverse possession or squatter's rights, which kick in after 12 years of uninterrupted occupation.
It is due to be sold by Allsop at auction this Thursday (November 24) with a recommended price tag of between €545,000 and €560,000.
The land, at Keadue, Cavan, had been earmarked in 2005 for a major development but was later sold with planning permission to local developer Cathal Brady for €3m. Ulster Bank had a charge over the land which it later sold on to the Promontoria Aran Ltd fund.
Promontoria appointed receivers Luke Charleton and Marcus Purcell to put the land up for sale to help discharge Mr Brady's debt.
Mr O'Reilly, of Crubany, Cavan, had paid annual rent to the previous owner of the land, Cavan Co Council, between 1981 and 1998 and used it for grazing his cattle.
Subsequent to 1998, he said no legal proceedings were ever taken against him to remove him from the land. While he has no buildings on the land, he claims he provided a cattle pen/crusher and water tank and also installed a gate and fencing.
He said he has been in continuous occupation for 37 years and even after his payment of rent to the council ended in 1998, he still qualified for adverse possession because he continued to be in occupation for more than the 12 years required by law.