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Mayo County Council v Rossport Solidarity Camp - Court Update.

category mayo | environment | news report author Wednesday August 01, 2007 16:35author by Anthony O'Halloran Report this post to the editors

Castlebar Circuit Court Report, MCC v RSC before Judge Harvey Kenny - Tuesday 31st July 2007.

Mayo County Council (MCC) came back before Judge Kenny on Tue 31st July, for a full hearing of their application for an order of injunction against the Rossport Solidarity Camp (RSC) to “cease the unauthorised development of lands between the foreshore and the Northern Boundary of the town land of Dooncarton/Glengad by erecting tents, buildings and other structures and ancillary facilities for camping or habitation”. On foot of an ‘ex-parte’ (without notice to the camp) application to Judge Donagh McDonagh on Fri 20th July, MCC were granted an ‘interim order of injunction’, claiming urgency that the camp was causing irreparable damage to part of the Glenamoy Bog Complex at Dooncarton/Glengad, a candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC). The camp dispute that any such damage is occurring and say that this cSAC is all the more protected by it’s presence, given Shell’s plans for the area, and where their unauthorised developments are allowed without planning permission, facilitated by MCC.
Is this Special Area of Conservation safe and protected with or without the Rossport Solidarity Camp?
Is this Special Area of Conservation safe and protected with or without the Rossport Solidarity Camp?

Barrister Mr. Sean Deegan, representing the Rossport Solidarity Camp, made an application for a further adjournment of proceedings on the grounds that there had been insufficient time for consultations between the camp and himself to prepare a case against MCC. Barrister Mr John Kiely, representing MCC, voiced his opposition to Mr Deegan’s application, with reservation, as it appeared that terms had been agreed between both parties, should the court see fit to adjourn the matter to October.

Judge Harvey Kenny said that he had travelled specially to hear the case in full and said that he thought he had made himself clear last week that that was his intention. He said that he would not accede to Mr Deegan’s request for more time, whereupon Mr Deegan said that he would “not be putting up a defence at this stage“. It appears that Mr Deegan was not prepared to engage at all in this fast-tracking of proceedings, was prepared to face the consequences and appeal to the high court where a full re-hearing would be guaranteed, if judgement went against the camp in the absence of such a hearing at the circuit court.

The judge said he’d let the matter stand and would hear the case in an hour.

The court reconvened at 11.30 and Mr Deegan raised the matter of time again. The Circuit Court (General) Rules 2007 make provision for 10 days ‘notice of motion’ to be given to the camp before the case comes to court. The camp was given notice at 9pm on Friday 20th July that MCC’s ‘motion’ (to get their application for injunction in motion) was set for 10.30am on Monday 23rd. And although Judge Donagh McDonough (the first judge), had made an order “abridging all times for service and filing of the notice of motion”, on Fri 20th, Mr Deegan argued that Judge McDonagh’s order to fast-track proceedings against the camp was not within the framework of ‘natural justice’. By using the argument of natural justice, it appears that Mr Deegan was intimating to the court that, should this circuit court proceed without regard to natural justice, then the matter could be brought to Judicial Review in the High Court.

Judge Kenny acceded to this argument for more time and notwithstanding the fact that Mr Deegan and Mr Kiely had agreed terms for an adjournment, the judge agreed to adjourn the case on his own terms - that no-one remain on the camp between now and then. Mr Deegan argued that a number of people who had made their home at the camp would be put to the side of the road, homeless, if this order stood. Judge Kenny argued that they could take up their tents and move to a camp-site. Mr Deegan argued that at least one person should be allowed to remain to ensure proper maintenance of the camp, and that two people would be better for security. The judge then said he would allow only one person on camp, whereupon Mr Kiely, for MCC, said that they would have no problem with two people permanently on camp. The judge acceded and gave the order, effective from noon on Friday 3rd August 2007.

A question arises as to whether or not the judge has the ‘jurisdiction’ to make his own terms with regard to an adjournment, given that the two parties appear to have agreed on a higher number of permanent residents on camp between now and the 3rd September. Given that this is a civil dispute, albeit an ‘enforcement’ matter in relation to planning, should Judge Kenny not have facilitated the agreement reached between MCC and the camp, rather than having imposed his own harsher terms, when he has not yet heard the full facts of the case?

For an account of last week's proceedings click on link below:

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/83550




author by Justice.publication date Wed Aug 01, 2007 18:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The land in question is part of the beach at Glengad, where the public have always had a right of access. In fact, a public right of way, a track road from the main road to the beach, existed until the Pollathomish landslides washed it away in 2003, and all that exists of it now is a gorge into the land which is unaccessible. Permission is granted by local landowners to anyone who wishes to visit the area through lands adjacent to the camp.

The area of greatest concern outined in the National Parks & Wildlife Service complaint to Mayo Couny Council is the footprint of the camp itself and the consequent deprivation of sunlight to vegetation. Judge Kenny appears to be showing scant regard to the minimal facts outlined to him at this stage, when there is no evidence to suggest that the impact of a small number of persons/campers is of similar concern. In fact, it is acknowledged by the National Parks & Wildlife Service and accepted by Mayo CoCo and their legal team, that "individuals at the camp have made considerable efforts to mitigate against the negative impacts caused by their presence".

author by wee willpublication date Wed Aug 01, 2007 23:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Don't get your hopes up. Judge H.K. is not exactly the most enlightened person on the bench -

"...January comments of Judge Harvey Kenny in Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court, when warning a Nigerian woman that he would like to impose a custodial sentence on her, to send a message to all the Nigerian community in Ireland who were all disobeying the law and driving around without insurance."


author by Mike - Judean Popular Peoples Frontpublication date Thu Aug 02, 2007 09:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

http://www.mayoecho.com/this%20weeks%20edition/pdfs/MAY...9.pdf Scroll down to bottom left of page)

author by MacEpublication date Thu Aug 02, 2007 13:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The grants are open to only four secondary schools. Surely it wouldn't be hard to inform the Leaving Cert students in these schools of the grants by means other than these weekly ads in the Mayo News, Western People, and Mayo Echo (and possibly also the Connaught Telegraph). One of the school principals in Belmullet loves to promote them, although he has never done this for the (far easier to obtain) local authority grants, Why are the ads necessary? So the rest of Mayo can learn of the multinational's seeming generosity. Absolutely nothing to do with encouraging application, because the only eligible students already know about them. 40,000 euro a year on grants, how much on advertising them?

Related Link: http://www.publicinquiry.ie
author by DDpublication date Thu Aug 02, 2007 16:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Bring the judges down off their high horses - see at http://www.indymedia.ie/article/83657&comment_limit=0&c...03387

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