Donegal waste operator given two more weeks to provide details

Jim Ferry ordered to submit information about money made from illegal dumping

Donegal businessman Jim Ferry faces jail for contempt of a High Court order if he does not provide details about money made from illegal dumping.   Photograph:  Collins Courts

Donegal businessman Jim Ferry faces jail for contempt of a High Court order if he does not provide details about money made from illegal dumping. Photograph: Collins Courts


A former waste company operator has been given another two weeks to come up with detailed information about what happened to the money he made from his illegal dumping activities in Co Donegal or else he will go to jail for contempt of a High Court order.

Jim Ferry, who operated Ferry’s Refuse Collection and Ferry’s Refuse Recycling, was behind what the court heard was an “unmitigated environmental disaster” when waste he collected was dumped on 11 acres he owns at Rossbracken, Letterkenny, a Special Area of Conservation on the shore of Lough Swilly.

Donegal County Council, which has had to spend €720,000 on a partial clean up and says it will cost millions more to complete, estimates he made €3.36 million from collecting waste at €11 a lift from households in Donegal over the years.

It wants him jailed for failing to obey court orders to clean up the site and for failing to account for the money he made.

Mr Ferry denies he made anything like that and was collecting unweighed waste because that was the system in operation at the time.

He operated at a loss because he had to dispose of far more than he was being paid for, he says.

He is filing for bankruptcy, has no “stash” of money, and has recently had to sell his jeep for €6,000 to pay his day-to-day living expenses, the court heard.

Last August, Mr Justice Max Barrett ordered he be jailed for contempt over his failure to obey orders directing a clean up. While the paperwork was being prepared for gardaí to execute the order, Mr Ferry left the courtroom and remained a fugitive until last month.

When he returned voluntarily to court last month, he apologised and said he was prepared to purge his contempt. The case was put back for a month to allow the county council consider an affidavit he had filed through his new solicitors.

When the case returned on Tuesday, Richards Lyons SC said the council was still seeking his jailing for contempt because he had failed to get consultants to prepare a report on how the site was to be fully cleaned up. He had also failed to provide details of his financial affairs as required by the court.

‘Worn out’

Francis Treanor BL, for Mr Ferry, asked the judge for two more weeks to get the information the council required.

A sum of money and a bank account had been seized and frozen by the Criminal Assets Bureau, he said.

The court heard the account holds the proceeds of the sale last year of Mr Ferry’s waste company for €406,000 to a Galway firm.

If he were given two more weeks “everything will be put before the court”, his counsel said.

Mr Justice Barrett, who said he was “worn out” with the case which has been ongoing since April last year. He did not think it “had got an iota further”.

He did not believe Mr Ferry’s claims that he did not understand what was going on (when he first faced jail for contempt last August).

He was, however, prepared to accept his counsel’s assurance that the matters the council wanted dealt with would be answered on the next date.

He gave Mr Ferry two weeks to have a detailed financial statement lodged with him (the judge) so that he could read it in advance of the case returning before him in three weeks.