| 11.1°C Dublin

Will presidential candidates back jailed protester?

PRESIDENTIAL candidates have been called to support a 65-year-old woman who was jailed after she refused to allow ESB workers on her property.

Teresa Treacy, below, has now spent 17 days in Mountjoy Prison after she was jailed for contempt of court.

Contractors started felling hundreds of trees on her land on Monday but her supporters forced them to stop work yesterday.

They are now calling for David Norris and Michael D Higgins to join Clinic star Rachel Pilkington and broadcaster Ray D'Arcy, who are backing her cause.

More than 3,300 people have signed a petition demanding that Teresa be released.

Further demonstrations started this morning after protesters camped on her 150-acre site at Clonmore, close to Tullamore in Co Offaly.

They planted ash trees that were given by anonymous donors to replace the ones cut down by contractors.

"All work was stopped and a substantial amount of trees were planted," a representative of Teresa's group confirmed.

"Supporters have been coming and going from Teresa's all day and all night. Many are camped out on the land for the night ready to stop the ESB."

Actress Rachel Pilkington, who held a vigil at the Dublin prison on Tuesday, also confirmed that she wanted the help of presidential candidates.

Teresa has refused for the past six years to let the ESB and Eirgrid erect power lines on her land.

"She genuinely believed her rights were being violated," the actress wrote. "She cultivated that land with her own two hands, for her home, a sanctuary, a last refuge in a material world."

Meanwhile, Teresa's family are worried that she will not be out of Dochas Women's prison in time for her 26-year-old niece Audrey's wedding.

"Teresa said she wouldn't be at the wedding -- and that's a huge deal for her because she also helped bring up Audrey," one of Teresa's other nieces, Edel (30) said.

"While I want her home desperately, I am so proud of her -- none of us, not her family, the ESB, the judge, the solicitors, no one thought she would be so strong to stick this out so long.

"She's an elderly lady with more guts than most young people -- and she hasn't committed a crime."

New mum Edel is also waiting to introduce Teresa to her newborn baby girl Aoife.