Minister brings case over livestock on prison site land

Dairy Farmer Jim Scully pictured beside Dublin Airport near to where his farm is.
Dairy Farmer Jim Scully pictured beside Dublin Airport near to where his farm is.

Tim Healy

The Minister for Justice has brought High Court proceedings against a farmer whose cattle have allegedly been trespassing on land earmarked for a new prison.

The proceedings are against James Scully, from Kilreesk Lane, St Margarets, Co Dublin, whose livestock have allegedly trespassed on 156 acres of land at Thornton Hall in north Dublin, near the south Meath town of Ashbourne.

The lands are owned by the Minister and since 2005 the State has spent over €50m on the site where a proposed new 'super prison' was to be built, but never proceeded.

In a sworn affidavit on behalf of the Minister, the court heard that Mr Scully's animals have been grazing on the lands for several months.

Last February, the Irish Prison Service was informed that on several occasions cattle had strayed from the Thornton Hall lands onto the property of a neighbouring landowner.

Cattle also strayed onto the road almost causing a collision.  

The Minister never gave permission allowing any party place livestock on the lands.

As a result, the Minister spent €21,000 on works, including the erection of fences, steel gates concrete bollards, and repairs to the damage to the neighbours' lawns around the property.  

Notwithstanding those works Mr Scully, it is claimed, continued to trespass on the lands by allowing his livestock to graze there.

The court heard that the Minister wrote to Mr Scully calling on him to remove his livestock from the property.

Mr Scully failed to respond but, it is claimed, instead gave an interview to the Irish Independent in which he admitted placing animals on the lands without liaising with the Minister.

Mr Scully also told the newspaper "what harm could be done by the animals grazing down grass as the land has been idle for 15 years?"

The court also heard that the Minister has entered into a lease agreement with another party relation to the land.  

However, the other party has been prevented from entering onto the land due to the defendant's continued trespass, it is claimed.

The Minister seeks various High Court orders against Mr Scully including one prohibiting him from trespassing and that he remove all his livestock.

The Minister also seeks a declaration from the Court that Mr Scully is trespassing.

The matter came before Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds on Monday, who on an ex parte (one side only represented) basis granted the Minister's lawyers permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on Mr Scully.

The Judge said that she was not prepared to grant an injunction against Mr Scully at this stage as the Minister had been aware of matters for several months before bringing proceedings.

She adjourned the matter to later in the week.

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