12 Aug 2022

High Court orders farmer to remove cattle from €50 million prison land

The Minister for Justice has secured High Court orders requiring a farmer to remove cattle that had been trespassing on €50 million agricultural lands in North Co Dublin that had been earmarked for a new prison.  

On Thursday Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds made orders against James Scully, who told the court that he had removed his livestock from 156 acres of land known as Thornton Hall.

The Minister, represented by David McGrath SC and Elizabeth Donovan Bl, claimed that Mr Scully had, without their client's permission, grazed his livestock on the lands for several months. 

He had admitted doing this in a newspaper article, counsel said, adding that Mr Scully had also claimed that he had been given permission to use the lands. That was not the case, counsel said.  

Representing himself Mr Scully from Kilreesk Lane, St Margarets, Co Dublin said all his animals had been removed from the lands. 

He told the court that livestock belonging to other persons had been grazing on the lands, and he denied allegations that any of his animals had caused damage to any neighbouring property.

Ruling on the matter Ms Justice Reynolds told Mr Scully that while the court noted that he had removed his livestock, the court was satisfied to make an order prohibiting him from trespassing on the lands and that he remove all his livestock from the property.

The Judge said she did not accept that permission was given to him by any of the Minister's agents to use the lands. 

She also told him the cost of removing of his or any other person's animals found wandering on the Minister's property would be "very high." 

The lands are owned by the Minister. Since 2005 the State has spent over €50m on the site, where a proposed new 'super prison' was to be built, but never proceeded. 

High Court that Mr Scully's animals had been grazing on the lands for several months. 

Last February the Irish Prison Service was informed that cattle had strayed from the Thornton Hall lands and caused damage to the property of a neighbouring landowner.

The Minister never gave permission allowing any party place livestock on the lands. 

As a result of what occurred the Minister spent €21,000 on works to secure the lands, including the erection of fences, steel gates concrete bollards, and repairs to the damaged property.

Notwithstanding those works Mr Scully, it is claimed, continued to trespass on the lands by allowing his livestock to graze there. 

The Minister contacted Mr Scully calling on him to remove his livestock. 

Mr Scully failed to respond and instead gave an interview to the Irish Independent Newspaper where he admitted placing animals on the lands without liaising with the Minister. 

This resulted in the Minister bringing proceedings against the dairy farmer, 

The court also heard Minister had entered into a lease agreement with another party in respect of the lands.  

However, the other party has been prevented from entering onto the lands and using them for agricultural purposes due to the defendant's continued trespass, the court heard.

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