Monday 22 January 2018

Judge jails woman for power-line disruption

Teresa Treacy at court in Dublin.
Teresa Treacy at court in Dublin.

Aodhan O Faolain and Grainne Cunningham

GARDAI are expected to arrest and jail a 65-year-old woman after she refused ESB and Eirgrid on to her land to finish building a power line.

A High Court judge yesterday heard that Teresa Treacy, of Woodfield House, Clonmore, Tullamore, Co Offaly, was "emotionally attached to her 100 acres of forestry".

But Mr Justice Daniel Herbert said his "hand had been forced" before sending her to prison for contempt of court.

He told Ms Treacy, who was not legally represented, that he "admired her principles" but did not admire what she was doing.

The judge said this was an example of a citizen setting herself against the Constitution of Ireland and against the courts. If this was allowed, he said, "we may as well sink into anarchy".

He directed she should remain in custody until she purged her contempt. But Ms Treacy was not immediately jailed and left the court following yesterday's hearing.

A spokesman for the courts services said that, once a committal order had been issued by a court, it was a matter for the Garda Commissioner to execute it. Speaking outside the courts yesterday, Ms Treacy vowed not to the let the ESB workers on to her land. "Sure, that is not a just thing to be doing," she said.

Earlier, Ms Treacy told the High Court she would not let workers on the land for health and safety reasons and because of her fears that her property, including trees, would be destroyed. She wants the power line put underground.

She had previously told the court that she would "gladly go to jail", and that she did not want compensation after the work was done.

The ESB and Eirgrid brought proceedings against Ms Treacy because she refused them access to her land by locking gates to her property and by standing in front of the locks when workers tried to cut them.


Michael Conlon for ESB and Eirgrid said Ms Treacy was "emotionally attached to her 100 acres of forestry" but the companies had a job to do.

Last July, ESB and Eirgrid secured orders against Ms Treacy and her sister, Mary, allowing them to carry out works on the land.

While his clients were initially allowed onto the land, gates on the property were subsequently locked, preventing any work from being carried out, and Ms Treacy blocked machinery from coming onto her land, Mr Conlon said.

Counsel said the ESB and Eirgrid offered to compensate Ms Treacy and had offered to plant new trees to replace any that might be damaged by their work. It added it was not possible to put the wires underground.

Irish Independent

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