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Thursday 14 December 2017

Woman jailed for refusing ESB access to land to complete power lines released

Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

A defiant pensioner jailed for more than three weeks has vowed to continue her fight against two State-owned companies trying to erect electricity pylons on her land.

The High Court ordered the release of Teresa Treacy, who was sent to Dochas woman's prison on September 13 for contempt of court for refusing to let ESB and Eirgrid fell thousands of her trees.

The firms applied to have the order committing the pensioner to prison discharged, despite her continued opposition to works.

The 65-year-old told the court she would not purge her contempt by complying with the court to allow workers to complete their work.

Outside Dublin's Four Court she said she was glad to be going home - on Tree Day 2011 - but would not back down.

"I'm not letting them through, I'm not letting them on my land. I will never let them through," said Ms Treacy, who was driven away by family.

"I'm getting help and I'm getting a lawyer and I will never let them through."

The former businesswoman had planted a forest on her 150-acre site at Clonmore, three miles east of Tullamore, Co Offaly.

ESB and Eirgrid, who had planning permission to cut down about 12,000 of her trees for pylons, this week offered to re-route part of its scheme meaning half of the original 14 acres needed would be felled.

Michael Conlon, senior counsel, told the court up to 85% of the trees the ESB and Eirgrid needed to cut down had been felled, but that Ms Treacy's supporters had prevented further works on site.

He said the companies wanted some breathing space and an opportunity to try to engage further with Ms Treacy, her family and solicitors to resolve the matter.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy said the coerciveness of the contempt order had been used up.

"Ms Treacy has been imprisoned for 22 days now," said the judge.

"The punitive element has been fulfilled and I'm going to make an order discharging the order of September 13 committing her to prison so she is free to go home."

Ms Treacy was brought before the court as a junior minister marked Tree Day 2011 at a tree planting ceremony at Castletown National School, Co Meath.

Shane McEntee, who has responsibility for forestry at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said: "Trees are an integral part of our landscape and forest products are a feature of our everyday surroundings so it is helpful for children to have this opportunity on National Tree Day to learn about trees and forests in a practical way.

"When you plant a tree you don't do it for today. You do it for tomorrow - for your children and their children in turn."

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