Friday 24 May 2019

Trio arrested for illegally harvesting lands at Lodgewood

The three were related to former owner John Kinsella

There was a large Garda presence at Lodgewood, Ferns, last week as three men were found operating combine harvesters on lands that are at the centre of High Court proceedings. The three men involved are all related to John Kinsella, the former owner of the lands who had previously been jailed for failing to comply with High Court Orders to stay away from the 150 acres, which was purchased by vegetable growers John B Dockrell Ltd of Screen last year.

Michael and Patrick Kinsella of Tomadilly, Marshalstown, and Fergus Kinsella of Tombrack, Ferns, all walked free from the Four Courts after agreeing to stay away from the land. On Tuesday of last week, there was a large garda presence at the entrance to the land as they put a stop to the illegal harvesting of the crop there. Some locals, angry at the treatment of the Kinsella brothers by so-called 'vulture funds' also arrived at the scene to help with the harvesting of the crops, but were told by gardaí that they would be arrested for trespassing if they insisted on staying on the land.

At Thursday's sitting of the High Court, Mr Justice Michael Twomey was told by Morgan Shelley Bl for the landowner John B.Dockrell Ltd that the three men, their combine harvesters, tractors and trailers were found harvesting corn on the lands by gardaí.

The three, who counsel said had no right to be on the land, are related to John Kinsella, a former owner of the land, who is the subject of High Court injunctions not to trespass on or interfere with the lands in question. Michael Kinsella is a brother of John Kinsella, while Fergus and Patrick are cousins of John Kinsella, the court heard.

Counsel said the three men's actions on the lands were 'in flagrant breach' of the terms of the injunctions resulting in the bringing of a motion seeking to have them brought before the court by the gardaí and jailed for their alleged contempt.

When the matter came before the Judge on Thursday morning the court heard the men denied being in contempt or having knowledge of the injunctions obtained against their relative John Kinsella. However, the three men walked free on Thursday afternoon after their counsel Mr John McCoy Bl said they were prepared to give undertakings not to trespass on the lands and would comply with orders previously made by the High Court.

Earlier this month John Kinsella, after spending a few hours in Mountjoy Prison, was released from custody after he gave undertakings to comply with the orders granted last April. He was committed to prison after he found to be in contempt of the orders preventing Mr Kinsella of Ballywilliamroe, Marshalstown, Enniscorthy, from coming within 100 metres of lands, from interfering with the property, and from blocking and impeding any entrances to the lands.

John B. Dockrell Ltd sought the orders because it claimed it was unable to access the 150 acres of land the firm from so-called 'vulture fund' Emberton Finance. It claimed gates on the property were chained and large concrete blocks, various vehicles were used to block access to and from the lands.

The land at Lodgewood had been bought by John and Michael Kinsella back in 2008 and following the economic collapse, they found themselves with significant debts as assets diminished. The Kinsellas always claimed that they had engaged with their financial institution, Friends First, at every step of the way, however, their loan was sold as part of a portfolio to Emberton Finance in 2016. At the time, the brothers claimed that their loan had been sold for a fraction of what they had offered as a settlement to Friends First. In 2017, the land at Lodgewood was sold by Emberton to John B Dockrell Ltd and it is believed that the Marshalstown brothers are now trying to work out a deal to save their family land at Marshalstown.

It is reported that after the arrests on Tuesday of last week, a deal was worked out with John B Dockrell Ltd for the crop to be harvested, with the IFA taking part in negotiations. With negotiations and legal proceedings ongoing, neither John B Dockrell, the Kinsellas or Wexford IFA wished to make any comment on the current situation, however, sources close to the talks have said that the situation is not black and white and is quite a bit more complicated than it would appear.

The case is due before the court again in October.

Enniscorthy Guardian