Two in custody after refusing to pledge to stay away from Roscommon farm

Michael Anthony McGann and retired Garda Kevin Taylor refused to give undertakings to comply with injunctions

 

Two men must remain in prison after they refused to give undertakings to stay away from a Co Roscommon farm, the scene of a controversial eviction in 2018.

Michael Anthony McGann, who owns the property, and retired Garda Kevin Taylor of Dublin Road, Longford were remanded in custody on Wednesday by Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds.

They were committed to Mountjoy Prison over their failure to comply with court orders, made in favour of KBC bank, requiring them to vacate the property at Falsk, Strokestown.

When the matter returned before Ms Justice Reynolds on Thursday, both men, who gave evidence via video link from the prison, declined to give undertakings to comply with injunctions.

KBC, which obtained orders in 2018 granting it vacant possession of the farm, had claimed the men, despite court orders, had refused to leave the property.

Arising out of their refusal, gardaí arrested both men on Wednesday, Mr Taylor at his home in Longford, and Mr McGann at the property, and brought them to the High Court.

On Thursday afternoon, Rossa Fanning SC, with Keith Rooney, for KBC, said it did not want to see the men remain in prison and their fate was “in their own hands”. The property was being secured by KBC and in those circumstances, despite the long history of the proceedings, KBC would be satisfied if the men gave sworn undertakings to stay away from the farm, he said.

Mr McGann said he was not prepared to give such an undertaking.

He repeated claims previously made that KBC had committed a fraud, which he said he could prove, perjury and that the matter was being “covered up”.

Mr Taylor also declined to give an undertaking to stay away from the property.

He said he worked “in the interests of justice for 30 years” and, if he had to stay in “prison for the rest of my life”, then “so be it”.

Mr Taylor said he did not want a qualified solicitor to represent him but would accept advice from “a common law solicitor”.

Ms Justice Reynolds said she was prepared to appoint a top independent criminal lawyer to advise Mr Taylor in this matter.

Her only function was to ensure court orders had been complied with, the judge said. She would not engage in what she described as “conspiracy theories”.

The 2018 High Court order requiring the farm to be vacated was never appealed, she noted.

In light of the men’s responses the judge said her hands were tied and she further remanded them in custody.

The matter will be reviewed next week, the judge said, adding they could apply any time to the court to purge their contempt. The farm in Falsk has been the subject of proceedings involving siblings Michael Anthony, David, and Geraldine McGann, and KBC Bank.

In October the siblings were brought before the court over their failure to leave the property on foot of an injunction secured by KBC. They were released after giving undertakings to leave and to remove their livestock from the farm.

However, KBC returned to court claiming it was unable to secure possession of the property due to the presence of several individuals on the farm.

KBC got an order for possession of the farm several years ago arising out of a €431,000 debt on the property from a loan to its registered owner Michael Anthony McGann.

The McGanns were evicted in 2018 but the house was later the scene of an attack on security men employed to secure it.

The security men were forced off the property by a group of masked men and a number of vehicles were burnt.

The McGanns, who were not involved in that incident, returned to the house. That resulted in KBC seeking, and obtaining orders against them last March which were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.