High Court proceedings aimed at preventing former billionaire Seán Quinn from trespassing on lands owned by the group of companies he set up were adjourned after the businessman failed to turn up in court.
In a letter emailed to the court, Mr Quinn said he was unable to attend due to the short notice of the proceedings but did offer an undertaking not to visit property owned by Mannok Quarries.
However, he said he required access to a certain roadway that connects a quarry in Co Cavan owned by the plaintiffs to a cement factory.
On Wednesday, lawyers for Mannok Cement Ltd and Mannok Build Ltd told the court that Mr Quinn was trespassing on a quarry owned by the companies.
They wanted an injunction restraining Mr Quinn from further trespassing, on the grounds that he has no entitlement to be on Swanlinbar Quarry in Co Cavan.
The companies claim that on several occasions since late 2019 Mr Quinn has trespassed on their lands.
The most recent trespass, it is claimed, occurred on May 8th, when he was seen driving on their lands in his E-Class Mercedes, including at Swanlinbar Quarry.
The firms, represented by Andrew Fitzpatrick SC and Michael Binchy BL claim the lands are active industrial sites, where heavy machinery is being operated, and Mr Quinn’s alleged presence amounts to a significant health-and-safety risk.
The companies secured permission to serve short notice of the injunction proceedings on Mr Quinn at his home at Greaghrahan, Ballyconnell, Co Cavan.
When the case returned before the court on Friday. Mr Justice Alexander Owens was told by Mr Fitzpatrick that Mr Quinn was neither present nor represented in court.
The judge said he had received an email from Mr Quinn stating that he was unable to attend “due to the short notice” he was given regarding the action.
Mr Fitzpatrick said his clients were “sceptical” about the contents of Mr Quinn’s letter but were not seeking the injunction at this stage of the proceedings.
Mr Justice Owens agreed to adjourn the application to a date next week.
In the letter, Mr Quinn, who apologised for not attending, said he was prepared to give an undertaking if he could access a road built by him 20 years ago that links Swanlinbar quarry to a cement factory.
The road was built on lands owned by parties including local farmers, who he said had leased it back to him.
He said the road was used by Coillte, local turf cutters, farmers and wind farm operators.
He said he required access for business reasons, as he has an interest “in limestone land” on the Swanlinbar side of the mountain.
He also required access to the road because he was “in discussions with investors” and local landowners regarding the building of a new wind farm on the mountain.
Mr Quinn said he did not accept certain claims made by Mannok, including that his presence amounted to a health-and-safety risk.
He said he knew the property like “the back of my hand”. The sites, he said, were closed and there were no moving vehicles.
Mr Quinn added that the case could be resolved without “further troubling the court” adding that he had abided with a previous undertaking given to a Belfast court not to enter on to lands owned by the plaintiffs in Northern Ireland.
He was happy to provide a undertaking not to visit sites owned by Mannok as long as his access to the roadway was not inhibited.
No right or interest
The plaintiffs claim Mr Quinn has no right or interest in the lands and has no defence to the claims against him.
The companies say they are not entirely certain what the purpose of Mr Quinn’s alleged trespasses is.
They believe his actions amount to “a misguided form of aggression in the form of defiance” aimed towards the company’s management.
The firm’s directors fear that unless restrained by the court, his trespassing will continue.
The two companies are subsidiaries of Mannok Holdings DAC, which was formerly Quinn Industrial Holdings DAC/Quinn Group/Aventas Group and is part of the Mannok group, which specialises in the sale and supply of building products and packaging solutions.