Medieval laws cited in fishing dispute


A JUDGE is to look at laws and charters predating the Magna Carta in a bid to settle a dispute over Dublin City Council’s legal right to lease out the fishing interests of the river Liffey.

Dublin and District Salmon Anglers’ Association claims entrepreneur David Wright, of West Pier, Howth, Co Dublin, is trespassing and disturbing the peace and calm of the river.

When barrister Edward Farrelly, counsel for Mr Wright, stated he would be challenging the entitlement of the local authority to have leased the river to the anglers’ association, Judge Joseph Mathews was asked to rule on the preliminary issue prior to a full trial of the case.

David McParland, for the anglers, told the Circuit Civil Court the association believed Mr Wright was trespassing. He said the association had leased the exclusive fishing rights between the Hermitage golf club on one side and Chapelizod on the other.

They allege Mr Wright is the owner of two semi-detached dwelling houses at Swan Lake, Chapelizod Road, Dublin, and that in May 2008 he built a double jetty from the rear of the houses.

The court heard that the association, under its lease, was obliged to protect the fishery from trespass or poaching. It was alleged the jetty was creating a nuisance and interfering with use of the fishery.

The association claims, through charters going back to the times of King Henry II, who died in 1189, that the citizens of Dublin and the city council through its predecessors had inherited title to the water and bed of the river Liffey.

Mr Farrelly said the Oireachtas had, under the Foreshore Act 1933, granted the minister for the marine statutory powers to lease areas of the foreshore and tidal rivers. He said there were no such powers in existence permitting Dublin City Council to lease the river. The council itself had been set up under statutory powers granted by the Oireachtas.

Judge Mathews adjourned his decision on the preliminary issue.