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Teresa Treacy Ordered to Jail over ESB Powerlines.

category national | environment | news report author Monday September 12, 2011 19:57author by Niall Harnett Report this post to the editors

“You picked the wrong place here” - Teresa Treacy to ESB consultant Shane McLoughney, April 2007.

Teresa Treacy, a 65 year old woman from Tullamore, Co Offaly has been ordered to jail by High Court Judge Daniel Herbert at the request of the ESB.

Ms Treacy, who shares the family farm with her sister Mary at Woodfield House, Clonmore, Tullamore, Co Offaly has refused the ESB access to her lands in order to protect the natural environment and the native trees that she has managed there for many years.

In February 2006 the ESB began plans to construct a 110kV transmission powerline from Cushaling to Thornsbury. The plans specify that double woodpole structures and steel towers accommodating overhead powerlines be built at 200 metre intervals over a total distance of 32 kilometres through the lands of local landowners.

Ms Treacy outlined her objections in a number of letters to the ESB and arranged a number of meetings with them to request that the powerlines be constructed underground for the following reasons.

1) The Health & Safety risks, including cancer risks which are increasingly associated with overhead powerlines as a result of Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF).

2) The fact that she has always maintained and improved her land as a natural habitat which includes native trees, old and new, cared for and/or planted by herself for future generations as a sustainable natural resource, through which the ESB want to smash.

3) The fact that the undergrounding of powerlines is now considered to be best practice across Europe. Ireland and the ESB are at the bottom of the league in terms of catching up with international standards and the progress which has been made to ensure that underground powerlines are the progressive way forward.

The ESB were also pointed to a recent decision in 2006 to underground the Bantry (Colomane - Ballylickey) 38kV powerline, which arose out of intense local protest opposing the overgrounding of that line. The ESB were contracted to that project by a private windfarm developer who succeeded in getting injunctions against local farmers but decided not to enforce them. He abandoned overgrounding in favour of undergrounding the powerline. See here: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/77007

When the Cushaling – Thornsbury project was proposed for Tullamore in early 2006 it appeared that there was stiff opposition to the project among the affected 90 landowners in Offaly. Undergrounding options were discussed as technical possibilities and European best practice had come to the attention of the public.

It's one thing to have a private developer opt for undergrounding but the ESB, fearing that a precedent may be set, were clever enough to use the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) to negotiate a compensation package with the landowners, most of them farmers.

Teresa Treacy stood to gain up to approximately 150,000 euro in 3 staged payments if she agreed to the project and on condition that no legal costs were incurred by the ESB if they had to go to court, in which case the last 2 payments would be 'forfeited'.

This deal, negotiated by the IFA over the course of 2 years, seemed to appease most of the landowners so by the time a public meeting was called to organise the landowners, by Ms Treacy in March 2009, less than a dozen people showed up.

By the summer of 2011 Teresa Treacy was the only one refusing access to the ESB.

The ESB has made a number of applications to the High Court over the summer, including orders for Ms Treacy to unlock her gates and let them in and subsequently an order empowering the ESB to break the locks after Ms Treacy refused to obey the first order. The ESB told the court that Ms Treacy “has an emotional attachment to her trees”. When Ms Treacy obstructed them from breaking the locks the ESB decided to go back to court to issue contempt proceedings against Ms Treacy.

Today, Monday 12th September 2011, Judge Daniel Herbert told Ms Treacy that he had no choice but to uphold the law and ordered that she be jailed for contempt of the court orders.

“I'm begging them for years” said Ms Treacy today. “5½ years, what a waste of time it was trying to talk to them”. Facing jail she said “I feel good, I really do. I just couldn't let them in to do that. It's just not right”.

“The route is cutting through our forest and the old Whitethorn hedgerows. For over 25 years I have used all my time and energy getting our lands into a place of natural beauty and overnight it can be destroyed with high powered lines going through forests beside the old bridge, the old laneway and through the new Oak and Ash woods I planted over 20 years ago. I have spent many years replacing dead trees and cutting gorse with my hands. I filled containers with water from the river so that my forest is a model. All my trees have been pruned individually by me to promote their growth”

“My heart is broken by the thought that they may be uprooted and thrown away. I know I will never see them in their full glory but was satisfied knowing that others would enjoy them long into the future”

“We already have 10 ESB poles on our land and feel that we have already done enough for the common good. Our farm is our life's blood, its scenic beauty from the untouched fields to the river and through the bog, all of it natural flora and fauna”.

Earlier court proceedings were heard by Judge Mary Laffoy who granted orders to the ESB. I'm wondering did Judge Laffoy decide not to be available to the ESB to hear contempt proceedings. Who would want to send an elderly woman to jail in these circumstances? When judgements are made in the High Court they are usually presented as ' ... the High Court has ruled such a way ...', and the name of the judge is understood to be irrelevant for the purposes of law. A judge is simply an instrument of the law and the law must be applied regardless of the personality or opinion of the judge. It is legally correct for a judge to take responsibility for 'difficult cases' because that's their job, and regardless of good reason, and the 3 reasons outlined above, the law must be applied, mustn't it?!

Ms Treacy will remain in jail until she 'purges her contempt' by agreeing to comply with the court orders. The ESB, however, are in a position to make an application to the court for her release, but this is unlikely, at least until they've smashed the trees and constructed their outdated powerlines. Her incarceration is in their hands.

Bury the powerlines, not the people!

Young Ash.
Young Ash.

Old Hedgerows with mature native trees.
Old Hedgerows with mature native trees.


Teresa Treacy at home at Woodfield.
Teresa Treacy at home at Woodfield.

 #   Title   Author   Date 
   A Pressing Social Need     Seán Ryan    Tue Sep 13, 2011 08:47 
   Teresa Treacy     Esperanza    Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:29 
   Sad story     A narky Dubliner    Tue Sep 13, 2011 16:46 
   No surprise     Des    Tue Sep 13, 2011 17:59 
   What to do ?     John Kelly    Tue Sep 13, 2011 23:01 
   No Consent.     Ailis    Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:29 
   Let's be clear here     thedigger    Wed Sep 14, 2011 14:08 
   "Ruling Elite Tyranny" is a much bigger threat than anarchy just now in the Republic of Ireland?     W. Finnerty.    Wed Sep 14, 2011 14:22 
   Okay, I'll bite     thedigger    Wed Sep 14, 2011 14:36 
 10   Hats off to this lady for her strong ethical stand     Serf    Wed Sep 14, 2011 14:37 
 11   in the depths of despair     outraged    Wed Sep 14, 2011 14:56 
 12   What's happening and What to do?     Niall    Wed Sep 14, 2011 15:12 
 13   No no no.     thedigger    Wed Sep 14, 2011 15:15 
 14   Salute to Teresa Treacy     Maura Harrington    Wed Sep 14, 2011 16:46 
 15   in support of teresa treacy     one ten two tenty four forty    Wed Sep 14, 2011 18:00 
 16   Reply to "Such as?" at Wed Sep 14, 2011 14:36     W. Finnerty    Wed Sep 14, 2011 18:20 
 17   Naïve Digger     thefiller    Wed Sep 14, 2011 19:07 
 18   seeking solutions     the weaver    Wed Sep 14, 2011 20:40 
 19   And another thing ...     W. Finnerty    Wed Sep 14, 2011 20:48 
 20   No Consent     Ailis    Wed Sep 14, 2011 21:51 
 21   Family Friend     Family Friend    Wed Sep 14, 2011 22:37 
 22   Urgent     Pat Riot    Thu Sep 15, 2011 07:12 
 23   "If approached by ESB staff Guards etc ..."     W. Finnerty    Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:46 
 24   Sheila     Sheila    Thu Sep 15, 2011 21:17 
 25   Judge Herbert in violation of Irish Constitution     Declan Cullen    Thu Sep 15, 2011 22:34 
 26   less than wise     shoegirl    Thu Sep 15, 2011 23:10 
 27   Lies...     Tesla    Fri Sep 16, 2011 07:55 
 28   A compromise between qaulity and cost     Seán Ryan    Fri Sep 16, 2011 08:14 
 29   a few thoughts     the weaver    Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:54 
 30   innocent is jailed to ensure maximum profits     Con Connor    Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:01 
 31   Mrs Treacy should not have to prove her case     Con Connor    Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:53 
 32   in response to some of the above comments     confused    Fri Sep 16, 2011 18:14 
 33   for Seán Ryan and Teresa`s friends     would like to help    Fri Sep 16, 2011 18:15 
 34   Just Say "No!"     Seán Ryan    Fri Sep 16, 2011 20:41 
 35   This is not justice     B. Casey    Mon Sep 19, 2011 18:30 
 36   In Support of Ms. Teresa Treacy     Mags Healy    Mon Sep 19, 2011 19:31 
 37   Support For Teresa     Sorcha Ni Aoidhe    Mon Sep 19, 2011 20:49 
 38   Miss Treacy     orkneyman    Mon Sep 19, 2011 21:52 
 39   Action and progress?     Delphine    Tue Sep 20, 2011 00:10 
 40   petition     ,Mary Lawlor    Tue Sep 20, 2011 00:48 
 41   ms     Hilary Tully    Tue Sep 20, 2011 13:39 
 42   I am glad     thedigger    Tue Sep 20, 2011 17:57 
 43   reply to last comment     dig deeper    Tue Sep 20, 2011 20:06 
 44   Teresa Tracey     Irene    Tue Sep 20, 2011 22:59 
 45   "European Democracy"     W. Finnerty    Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:15 
 46   Protest Vigil this Friday 23rd Sept at Mountjoy 6pm     Supporter    Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:24 
 47   Support.     Rational Ecologist.    Wed Sep 21, 2011 15:45 
 48   Load of hot air     Kev OFaolain    Sun Sep 25, 2011 15:49 
 49   To Kev OFaolain at Sun Sep 25, 2011 15:49     W. Finnerty    Sun Sep 25, 2011 17:13 
 50   response to hot air     reply    Sun Sep 25, 2011 18:58 
 51   Opposing Court Orders     Kev OFaolain    Sun Sep 25, 2011 22:29 
 52   it is class war     HannibalElecteric    Sun Sep 25, 2011 22:50 
 53   sounds like you spent some time at protests allright....OVERTIME in fact!     piggy    Sun Sep 25, 2011 23:08 
 54   Piggily Wiggly     Kev OFaolain    Sun Sep 25, 2011 23:27 
 55   Come on Kevin.     Rational Ecologist.    Mon Sep 26, 2011 09:37 
 56   Read Kevin's posts.     thedigger    Mon Sep 26, 2011 13:33 
 57   Godwin's Law.     Rational Ecologist.    Mon Sep 26, 2011 13:43 
 58   Valid Law     W. Finnerty    Mon Sep 26, 2011 17:49 
 59   Gratitude to W Finnerty.     Rational Ecologist.    Mon Sep 26, 2011 18:07 
 60   The Issue     Frank O'Callaghan    Mon Sep 26, 2011 22:41 
 61   Not a criminal     Seán Ryan    Tue Sep 27, 2011 01:48 
 62   Response to Frank O'Callaghan at Mon Sep 26, 2011 22:41     W. Finnerty    Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:53 
 63   Free Teresa Treacy - Ireland is a Banana Republic and a Sham on the World Stage.     Arthur O Hara    Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:53 
 64   ESB Invasion of private property-right now!!     Rational Ecologist.    Tue Sep 27, 2011 13:04 
 65   Shame on Ireland???     Kev OFaolain    Tue Sep 27, 2011 23:27 
 66   Answerable to god and the common good     Seán Ryan    Wed Sep 28, 2011 03:12 
 67   Consumers charter 2011     Ailis    Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:09 
 68   Q.What can I do?     Rational Ecologist.    Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:39 
 69   Petition     Lucy bingham mcandrew    Wed Sep 28, 2011 16:44 
 70   Similarities between this case and Rossport     Mags Sheehan    Wed Sep 28, 2011 17:38 
 71   In the interests of the "common good", this woman deserves better?     W. Finnerty    Wed Sep 28, 2011 18:39 
 72   support for teresa     joseph soap    Thu Sep 29, 2011 13:03 
 73   hello     Well said joseph soap    Thu Sep 29, 2011 17:35 
 74   Fascism at work in Ireland in 2011     louis sandvoss    Fri Sep 30, 2011 02:22 
 75   Replant.     Rational Ecologist.    Mon Oct 03, 2011 09:28 
 76   Replant.     Rational Ecologist.    Mon Oct 03, 2011 09:28 
 77   She Speaks.     Pedlars Lake.    Mon Oct 03, 2011 09:53 
 78   Nurturing in My Back Yard     maire    Mon Oct 03, 2011 16:12 
 79   Jailing of Teresa Treacy     Mary C    Mon Oct 03, 2011 20:12 
 80   info     hello    Tue Oct 04, 2011 16:53 
 81   Support!     Patrick o Connor    Tue Oct 04, 2011 18:02 
 82   underground is cheaper     support 4 teresa    Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:46 
 83   Protect native trees     Protect Native Trees    Wed Oct 05, 2011 21:14 
 84   Harmony, common good and the mob     P. Goossens    Thu Oct 06, 2011 15:30 
 85   ESB Blinks First - Teresa Treacy Free!     Seán Ryan    Thu Oct 06, 2011 17:29 
 86   Next Step     W. Finnerty    Fri Oct 07, 2011 19:22 
 87   just wondering     Mary    Sat Oct 08, 2011 17:44 

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