Monday 19 March 2018

Political activist Ben Gilroy denies protester 'ringleader' claims

Ben Gilroy
Ben Gilroy

Political activist Ben Gilroy has denied claims that he was "one of the ringleaders" of a group of protesters who forced bank-appointed receivers off a Co Kildare stud farm.

Mr Gilroy, a founder of Direct Democracy Ireland, is before the High Court challenging allegations that he was in contempt of court for interfering with the receivership of the 120-acre stud farm at at Kennycourt, Brannockstown, Naas.  He says he was just an observer.

In proceedings before Mr Justice Sean Ryan, lawyers for the receivers,  Mark Reynolds and Glenn Crann, said they had video evidence supporting their claim Mr Gilroy was centrally involved in "very unsavoury" events on August 28 and 31 last when protesters went onto the stud farm.

The lands were owned by Eugene McDermott and sold last year by the receivers appointed by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation in late 2011 arising from default on a €814,000 debt secured on the lands.

Mr Gilroy, representing himself, denies that he was in contempt.

He says he was invited onto the lands  by Charles Allen - of the Rodolphus Allen private trust which was set up in an effort to prevent repossessions - and did not organise the event on the lands. He was only present at the protests "as an observer." 

The court heard Mr Gilroy rejects the receivers claims on grounds including he was not properly served with a notice of contempt, that court orders preventing any interference with the receivers from carrying out their duties are not valid, and that video evidence shows he was an observer at the protests.

Yesterday,a packed courtroom was shown video clips which the receivers say supports their claim Mr Gilroy was one of the ringleaders of the protests.

Michael Howard SC, for the receivers, said video clips from Mr Gilroy's organisation showing him giving a speech to the crowd on the lands following the protest at the farm on August 31 when up to 300 people attended at the farm.

There was also audio recording played of an interview with Mr Gilroy on an internet radio station in which he "took credit" for that protest which resulted in forcing the receivers off the lands.

Mr Gilroy disputes this and claims the clips show he was an observer at the protest. He also pointed out to the court that he clearly states in the radio interview that he "did not organise" the protest on the stud farm.

Aidan Devlin, a director of a security company employed by the receivers, told the court that was verbally abused and had a camera put in his face by Mr Gilroy after he attended at the stud farm on August 28 last.

He told Rory Mulcahy Bl, for the receivers, that Mr Gilroy was one of the leaders of a group of between eight to ten protesters. He said that he also served Mr Gilroy with a contempt of court notice, which he added, Mr Gilroy let fall to the ground.

Under cross examination from Mr Gilroy, he denied that he acted in an aggressive manner, or that he assaulted anyone on that occasion.

He also denied Mr Gilroy's assertion that the verbal exchange between the parties was "banter,"  He said he said what the protesters said to him, including Mr Gilroy "was not banter."

Evidence was also given by  Garda Superintendent Ian Lackey who said he heard Mr Gilroy say that he "did not recognise the order when served by Mr Devlin on Aug 28.

The hearing resumes next Friday.

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