Farmer drained protected wetlands


A farmer from Co Mayo worked "hell bent" for more than 25 hours to drain as much as he could of a wildlife habitat before the Garda got to him, the High Court was told yesterday.

Mr James McDonnell, Kilglasson, Roundfort, Co Mayo, was arrested on Tuesday and detained overnight until his appearance in court yesterday. He told Mr Justice Murphy he was aware that the wetlands on his farm had been designated a conservation area.

"I was working on my own land. I felt I was entitled to make those improvements," he said.

Mr McDonnell, who faced being committed to prison yesterday for contempt of court, and his brother, Michael, gave undertakings not to carry out any further excavations or digging on their lands.

He also undertook to carry out all necessary remedial work on the wetlands over the next two weeks.

Mr Eanna Mulloy, counsel for the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, told the court that Mr McDonnell had worked "hell bent" to frustrate a High Court order restraining him from interfering with fauna or flora or the ecological systems on the lands.