Former Donegal waste operator Jim Ferry has alleged that “political pressure” is driving a prosecution against him. Ferry is before the court in relation to an unauthorised development at Rossbracken, Manorcunningham, Co Donegal.
The case relates to a change of use to Ferry’s former waste disposal facility, which has been used as a facility for car “diffing”, which involves people with rear wheel drives meeting up and performing manoeuvres such as “donuts”. The facility has been the subject of a “high volume” of complaints from residents nearby, the court heard.
Ferry, of Slieve Sneacht, Glencar, Letterkenny, is charged with failing to comply with an enforcement notice, which was served by registered post last December.
Ten categories of disclosure have been sought by Ferry’s legal representatives, JV Geary Solicitors, from Donegal County Council.
A 74-page file was subsequently furnished by VP McMullin Solicitors, the firm acting on behalf of Donegal County Council, with five of the categories addressed.
One of those not resolved relates to the sought disclosure of the identity of Donegal County Council officials who were copied on email correspondence relating to the site at Rossbracken.
“My client is entitled to know so that he can get a fair hearing,” Mr John Geary, solicitor for Ferry, told Letterkenny District Court.
“There is political pressure on Donegal County Council regarding this case. The knowledge of the names is essential in the interests of fairness.”
Representing the local authority, solicitor Mr Kevin McElhinney said that GDPR prohibits Donegal County Council from providing the names and he said the terms of the case were “clear”.
“Political pressure, or otherwise, this is before a District Court Judge on a summons,” Mr McElhinney said.
“It is a prosecution for failing to comply with an enforcement notice.
“Whether every single councillor in Donegal is making submissions to have it stopped does not impact on the ability of the court to rule on a prosecution against Mr Ferry.
“This is a very basic prosecution and we have given Mr Geary as much documentation as we can. I don’t accept that most of that provided is necessary or relevant, but we have provided it.”
Mr Geary told the court that he had previously represented Ferry in the High Court in relation to waste management and the case had generated huge publicity, including a feature on RTÉ's Prime Time.
“This matter before the court also generated quite lot of publicity in terms of what’s going on at Rossbracken.” Mr Geary said.
“My client is of the view, rightly or wrongly, that there is political pressure on Donegal County Council to act here.”
Mr Geary also told the court that, unbeknown to him, Ferry has initiated High Court proceedings against Donegal County Council and “many others”. Mr Geary said he knew nothing about these proceedings and “it appears that Mr Ferry is advancing them himself”.
Judge Éiteáin Cunningham said she would consider the correspondence in the matter and adjourned the case until June 19th.