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Saturday 22 September 2018

'Trespassers will be shot' warn signs in farmer's jeep amid land dispute

The sign was erected by farmer John Kinsella, who is subject to a court order barring him from coming within 100 metres of the land.
The sign was erected by farmer John Kinsella, who is subject to a court order barring him from coming within 100 metres of the land.

Alan Sherry

It is the blunt sign which shows how a tense a “war” over an ordinary-looking field in Co. Wexford has become.

“Trespassers shall be shot,” can be read on a sign covering the window of a jeep parked strategically to block access to a land in Lodgewood in Ferns.

The sign was erected by farmer John Kinsella, who is subject to a court order barring him from coming within 100 metres of the land.

The court heard how the land had been seized from Mr Kinsella after he fell behind on a multi-million euro lend. However, instead of moving on, Mr Kinsella is digging in.

Following the court decision, tensions have continued to escalate and when visited by the Sunday World , John Kinsella vowed to fight on for the plot.

He claimed a flag was stolen from the site recently, in what he said was an “act of war”.

There are more signs outside Mr Kinsella’s home, a few kilometres away from the field.
There are more signs outside Mr Kinsella’s home, a few kilometres away from the field.

While he made no appearance in court earlier this month he denied that he ignored the court case.

“I sent two affidavits to court and there were things said in court that weren’t right. The car wasn’t impounded and they had what was written on some of the signs wrong.”

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He went on to say he was annoyed because someone recently stole his flag, which he had placed on the land.

“I had a flag up there and it was taken three weeks ago. I haven’t got it back. You know what it is when someone takes your flag? That’s an act of war.”

It is unclear who stole his flag.

Kinsella, from Ballywilliamroe in Marshalstown, Co. Wexford, is subject to a court order barring him from coming within 100 metres of the land at Lodgewood in Ferns.

Mr Kinsella and his brother brought the 158-acre site in 2008 in a multi-million euro deal after acquiring a loan from Friends First. However, they became heavily indebted due to the economic crash.

Their €4.5m loan was then sold on to so-called ‘vulture fund’ Emberton Finance. The Kinsellas claim they had offered a full and final settlement to Friends First which was rejected and the land was sold for a third of that value.

Vegetable grower John B. Dockrell Ltd bought the land in June 2017 and has been unable to access it due to the activities of Mr Kinsella.

In a High Court hearing this month, the firm alleged Mr Kinsella entered the land without permission and illegally ploughed the fields. It also said the gates had been chained and large concrete blocks were put in place to impede movements on the land.

The Sunday World visited the site the week and the chains and blocks remained in place along with two vehicles on either side of an entrance gate.

There are a number of signs in the vehicles warning people to keep off the land.

One of the signs reads: “Trespassers shall be shot per section 18 of the non-fatal offences against the person act without prejudice.”

Kinsella and his brother previously represented themselves in the Commercial Court over their dispute with Emberton.

Mr Justice McGovern said he was concerned about some of the documentation presented to the court on the brothers’ behalf, which contained what he described as “pseudo-legalised jargon”.

There are more signs outside Mr Kinsella’s home, a few kilometres away from the field.

One sign says: “Take notice. Trespassers will be prosecuted. This is a Brehon and common law jurisdiction. Anyone who crosses will be put under ‘the sword of truth and spear of inspiration’. By order Deirdre Doyle.” Ms Doyle is Mr Kinsella’s wife.

John B Dockrell Ltd secured an ex-parte temporary injunction preventing Mr Kinsella coming near the land in a High Court hearing this month. The company says Mr Kinsella’s actions are in contempt of previous court orders obtained in relation to the land. 

In a sworn statement, Mr Dockrell said the erection of the signs amounts to an intensification of matters. He said he was fearful locals in the area had turned against him and he was fearful for his own safety and that of others he sends on the lands.

The case will return before the court over the coming days.


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