Saturday 16 December 2017

Stud farmer apologises for anti-repossession protests at Naas home

Eugene McDermott, leaving court after he apologised to the High Court and purged his contempt
Eugene McDermott, leaving court after he apologised to the High Court and purged his contempt
Eugene McDermott

A STUD farm owner whose arrest for alleged contempt of court was ordered after his lands were the scene of angry anti-repossession protests has apologised after he voluntarily appeared before the High Court.

Eugene McDermott, a father of six,  was under enormous stress and "succumbed to irrational actions" because he felt "catapulted into a storm" due to economic factors beyond his control,  Mr Justice Brian McGovern was told.

Mr McDermott wished to apologise and was also prepared to ask anti-repossession protesters who had come onto his lands at Kennycourt Stud, Brannockstown, Naas, "to desist", his counsel Vincent P. Martin said.

Mr Justice McGovern noted Mr McDermott's apology but said he wanted to make clear, when a court makes orders, compliance is not optional.

While he fully understood the stress Mr McDermott was under having lost all his land and all he had built up, there were many others across the country who had also lost all but they were not disobeying court orders, the judge said.

The upset and suffering experienced by Mr McDermott and his family was "no justification for letting a mob onto your lands", he told Mr McDermott.

This State was "not founded on the rule of the mob" and the people had decided the courts would adjudicate disputes, he said.  If people did not comply with court orders, there "would be anarchy".

Given Mr McDermott's apology and undertaking to comply with orders restraining interference with receivers appointed by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation over 120 acres of the stud farm lands, the judge said he would not jail him and would quash the warrant for his arrest.

He adjourned an application by Michael Howard SC, for the receivers, for some €6,100 costs against Mr McDermott arising from "mob damage", plus the legal costs of the application.

Warrants were issued last September for the arrest of Mr McDermott and two anti-repossession campaigners men - Ben Gilroy and Charles Allen -  for the purposes of bringing them before the court to answer claims of contempt of orders restraining interference with the receivers.

Mr Gilroy, a founder of the political movement Direct Democracy Ireland, was arrested at his home in Navan, Co Meath, earlier this month and brought before the court which adjourned the proceedings against him to tomorrow.

Without prejudice to his denial of contempt, Mr Gilroy undertook not to trespass on the stud farm lands or interfere with the receivers.

The warrant for the arrest of Mr Allen, of the Rodolphus Allen private trust which was set up in an effort to prevent land repossessions, remains unexecuted.

The stud farm lands, excluding the family home of Mr McDermott, were sold last month by the receivers, who were appointed in late 2011 arising from default on a €814,000 debt secured on the lands.

The lands were the scene of anti-repossession demonstrations last August. 

The receivers alleged Mr Gilroy and Mr Allen were among about eight men using Mr McDermott's house on August 28 as a base to encroach on the lands under the receivers' control.

The stud farm has been at the centre of a complex legal battle involving Mr McDermott and financial institutions.  Separately, Bank of Scotland last July secured a €7m judgment against Mr McDermott at the Commercial Court.

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