Farm Ireland
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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Farmers tell court they were 'bullied and threatened' by billionaire brothers

The High Court (Stock Image)
The High Court (Stock Image)

Aodhan O'Faolain

Two farmers claimed before the High Court that they have been "bullied, intimidated and threatened" by agents of billionaire businessmen brothers Luke and Brian Comer over five acres of land in north Co Dublin.

Rory Bridgette and Albert Murphy have used lands at Cloghran, Swords, near Dublin Airport, for grazing their horses and ponies since they went into occupation of the property in 2003. They fenced off the five acres, which are owned by Hugh Byrne. Mr Byrne, they claim, knew they put their horses on the land but never tried to put them off the land.

In late August and early September of this year, the two farmers say they were contacted by a man called 'Paul' who said he was "from the Comer brothers".

He said the brothers owned the lands and told the farmers to remove the animals.

Mr Bridgette, from Sandy Hill Way, Ballymun, and Mr Murphy, from Furry Park, Cloghran, told 'Paul' the lands were theirs and they were not going anywhere. The farmers say a large mound of soil was dumped in the laneway leading to the lands, preventing access.

The court was told the matter was reported to gardaí, who were investigating, and the farmers brought High Court proceedings against Leixlip-based firm Sainfoin Property Company, of which Luke and Brian Comer are directors.

Barrister Michael Ronayne, who appeared with John Geary of JV Geary Solicitors, secured temporary injunctions for the two farmers restraining "the Comer's company and their agents from continuing to threaten, interfere with or trespass on the lands at Turnapin, Cloghran, Swords, Co Dublin".

The defendant company and its agent are also prohibited from removing, storing, moving or selling any livestock or animals on the lands.

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The interim injunctions were granted, on an ex-parte basis where only one side was present in court, by Mr Justice Anthony Barr.

Seeking the orders, Mr Ronayne said his clients had been in possession of the lands since 2003. He said the two farmers had been "bullied, intimidated and threatened" by the Comers' agents. Counsel said when the farmers' solicitor Mr Geary had written to the defendant company asking it to desist no formal response had been forthcoming, leaving the two farmers no option other than to seek an injunction from the court.

Mr Ronayne added that the Comer brothers "are not millionaires but are billionaires" and had extensive interests in hotels, property and bloodstock in Ireland, the UK and Europe.

Mr Justice Barr made the matter returnable to a sitting of the High Court later this week.


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