Three to remain in jail until they agree to stay away from Roscommon farm – court

Judge makes order for ‘indefinite’ detention of men until they purge their contempt

Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Three men jailed for contempt must remain in Mountjoy Prison until they agree to comply with orders to stay away from a Co Roscommon farm, the High Court has ruled.

Michael Anthony McGann, Kevin Taylor and Colm Granahan were jailed by Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds last week after they refused to give undertakings to comply with orders to stay away from a farm in Falsk, Strokestown.

The farm, owned by Mr McGann, was the scene of a controversial eviction in 2018. KBC bank had previously obtained a possession order for the property. After it was unable to secure the property, it returned to court and last year got orders granting it vacant possession of the property. It brought contempt proceedings against the three men over their refusal to comply with that order.

In a written judgment on Wednesday, Ms Justice Reynolds said she was making an order for the “indefinite” detention of the three men, until such time that they purge their contempt. It was “manifestly clear” their actions amount to a “flagrant, deliberate and contrived” breach of a court order made last year preventing anyone trespassing on the farm or impeding KBC taking possession of the property.

The judge said evidence was given that all three were present on the property despite not being entitled to be there.

She noted “an ongoing social media campaign,” in respect of the property, “orchestrated solely for the purposes of undermining the authority of the court.”

That campaign also invited people to attend at the farm in order to frustrate the High Court order, she said. It was clear the court “has the power of sending to prison, indefinitely, a person who wilfully refuses to comply with an order of the court.”

The court “is mindful of its obligation to ensure that orders of the court are complied with. It is an essential aspect of the rule of law.”

It is “at all times open” to the three to purge their contempt and undertake not to trespass upon, enter, attend at or obstruct KBC from taking possession of the property, she said. All three had been given opportunities by the court to purge their contempt, but had “demonstrated an unwillingness to do so.”

Mr Granahan from Ballina, Co Mayo, Mr Taylor, a retired garda from Longford and Mr McGann, of Falsk, Strokestown were all brought before the court late last month following their arrest by gardaí. They remain in Mountjoy Prison.

The judge said the men had raised issues concerning the validity of the order made last year that requires them to stay away from the farm. That order had never been appealed, and the court would not allow issues already determined to be relitigated, she said. The matter will return before the court early next year when the judge said she would review matters.