A judge has said she is not going to criminalize four respected farmers from northern Clare involved in a dispute over rights of way at Bellharbour in the Burren.
T Ennis District Court, Judge Mary Larkin told the four men that “You can’t push and shove about the right of way. I’m glad the Circuit Court has settled the right of way case.”
In the case, the four youths denied the allegations of assault against them before the district court.
Terence McGann (43) of Turlough, Bellharbour, twin brother and farmer, denies assaulting Joseph Ford in Turlough, Bellharbour on October 4, 2021.
Mr McGann’s twin and farmer of the same address, Justin (43), denied assaulting Emmett Ford at the same location on the same date.
Arising from the same incident, Emmett Ford (32), of Glenoir, St Senan’s Road, Ennis, denied assaulting Justin McGann at the same location and Joseph Ford (64), of Aughwinnoun, Turlough, Belharbour, denied assaulting Terence. Did McGann in the same place on the same date.
Sergeant Eden Lonergan told the court: “The State will allege that the underlying issue for this is access to land and the extent to which access exists and there are allegations and counter-allegations in relation to the alleged assault on that date.”
In response, Judge Larkin said: “I take the view that we should hold this back until the circuit court decides on the right of way. I’m not going to litigate the right of way here in district court.” and they can hire barristers and spend a lot of money in the circuit court and defend their position there.
“You know my thoughts on this. I was a country lawyer in a country place. I know how these things are. It all calms down and we all move on.
“I can see from their addresses that they are all respectable people. They should not be in criminal court. I am not going to be accusatory regarding the neighbors in the matter of right of way. These are regular, ordinary people who make their living from the land.
“I suggest they resolve their issues with regard to where the right of way is.”
The court was told that none of the four had previous convictions and Sergeant Lonergan confirmed that there was no ongoing conflict in the meantime.
The Fords’ solicitor, Darragh Hassett, said all four were farmers and told the court that “the McGanns accept that Joseph Ford has a right of way. It is where the right of way crosses the land that is at issue Is”.
The McGanns’ solicitor, John Casey, said that “we can explain to our clients the convictions and consequences of being bound for the peace”.
Mr. Hassett said the proceedings in the circuit court related to the right-of-way civil case have not yet been issued.
Sergeant Lonergan asked for liberty to refer the matter within 24 hours “for fear there could be any escalation of the situation”. Judge Larkin adjourned all matters until June 14.