Two directors of Doolin Ferries jailed for contempt

Two directors of a Co Clare ferry firm were jailed last night after being found to have breached a court order to end a stand…

Two directors of a Co Clare ferry firm were jailed last night after being found to have breached a court order to end a stand-off between rival ferry firms at Doolin harbour.

At Ennis Circuit Court last night, Judge Carroll Moran jailed directors of Doolin Ferries Bill O'Brien and Kevin O'Brien after finding them in contempt of a court order.

The director of Aran Islands Fast Ferries, Mr John Joe Fitzpatrick, told the court he had been the subject of a campaign of harassment from Doolin Ferries.

In his judgment, Judge Moran said: "Bill and Kevin O'Brien have been in flagrant breach of the order and as a judge I cannot tolerate a flagrant disregard not only of the letter of the order, but also of the spirit of it.

"... Gardaí received 42 separate complaints from Aran Islands Fast Ferries in the space of a couple of months."

He also expressed concern at the allegation that pellets were fired at the offices of Aran Islands Fast Ferries by a staff member of Doolin Ferries.

Judge Moran added: "Aran Islands Fast Ferries claim the defendants have defamed them by telling passengers that their boat is overloaded and has only one engine. Each defendant denies the allegations with Bill O'Brien saying they are lies and fabrications."

But the judge was satisfied that he could accept all of the evidence of Aran Islands Fast Ferries and could not accept the contrary evidence put forward by the O'Briens.

The consent order agreed between the two firms restrained the directors and staff of Doolin Ferries from threatening or assaulting Aran Islands Fast Ferries staff.

The companies' offices are 18 metres apart and the consent order provided for the creation of exclusion zones around each office.

Giving his ruling after 9 p.m. yesterday, the judge said the men would remain in prison until they had purged their contempt.

Judge Moran also made an order for costs against Doolin Ferries in the case.