Donegal illegal dump operator pleads for one last chance

Jim Ferry’s lawyers tell High Court he ‘panicked’ and evaded an arrest warrant

Jim Ferry from his “Justice for Jim” Facebook page.

Jim Ferry from his “Justice for Jim” Facebook page.

 

Jim Ferry, the Co Donegal waste collector who has been evading a High Court arrest warrant since last August, presented himself to the court on Tuesday and heard his barrister plead successfully for one last chance.

“One last chance, one last chance,” barrister Francis Treanor BL said to Mr Justice Max Barrett as Mr Ferry sat at the back of the court with his solicitor, John Geary.

Mr Treanor said Mr Ferry, who has been on the run since August 22nd when Mr Justice Barrett ordered that he be jailed for contempt for failing to adhere to an earlier order regarding the illegal dump he had been operating at Rossbracken, near Letterkenny in Co Donegal, was now fully aware of the gravity of his situation.

“I can only tell you, judge, that in the last week, I have been able to convince my client that he’s in a very precarious situation,” said Mr Treanor, adding that the fate of Mr Ferry was in the hands of the court.

Mr Justice Barrett said Mr Ferry was in contempt when the order to jail him was made in August and he remained in contempt today. The judge, who noted that a uniformed member of the Garda Siochána was in court, said he would adjourn the case until June 12th, when a garda would be in court again.

Mr Treanor promised Mr Ferry would attend then and that he wished to purge his contempt.

Mr Ferry has been living in Strabane in Co Tyrone, just across the border from Lifford in Co Donegal.

Mr Treanor told Mr Justice Barrett that Mr Ferry had taken on board the seriousness of his situation.

“He understands the ramifications of the order in being at the moment. He’s here this morning to purge his contempt,” said Mr Treanor.

Last time, said Mr Treanor, he did not understand the consequences of what was going to happen but, since then, “a lot of water has flown under this particular bridge”.

Patrick McMullin, solicitor for Donegal County Council, which has been battling since November 2016 to force Mr Ferry to comply with waste regulations and environmental law, and also to pay the cost of cleaning up his 11-acre site at Rossbracken, said that an affidavit just filed by Mr Ferry contained no proposals as to how he would comply with the court’s clean up order, or any apology for his conduct.

The affidavit contained nothing about his absconding for the past nine months and Donegal County Council “have nil confidence” in Mr Ferry’s intentions. They did not wish him jailed but want him to comply with the orders of the court.

The council had cleared surface waste from Rossbracken “at huge cost to the taxpayer [and] there was more waste there than anticipated”, said Mr McMullin.

Mr McMullin sought an adjournment to give the Council time to reply to Mr Ferry’s affidavit.

Mr Treanor said that Mr Ferry accepted that what he had done, by absconding, was “silly” and “ill advised”.

“He panicked,” said Mr Treanor who asked Mr Justice Barrett to “take a neutral position”.

Mr Justice Barrett adjourned the case but warned Mr Ferry to present himself in court next time.

Mr Ferry left without commenting.