“It would be a question of the utmost public concern if an undercover officer were effectively permitted to operate without justification, authorisation or oversight in Ireland.”
LEGAL proceedings brought by Mayo County Council seeking the removal of the ‘unauthorised development’ of the Rossport Solidarity Camp in Glengad have been adjourned until next Tuesday, when Judge Harvey Kenny said he would make his decision.An interim injunction restraining camping and habitation of the land, which is located in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), was obtained by solicitors acting on behalf of Mayo County Council at Castlebar District Court last Friday and was issued to residents of the camp later that evening.At a sitting of Castlebar Circuit Court yesterday (Monday), Mayo County Council sought an interlocutory injunction against the ‘unauthorised development’ on the land, while the defendants sought an adjournment until October to give time to seek legal counsel.Mr John Kiely BL, for Mayo County Council (instructed by Mr Michael Browne), told the court that Mayo County Council were opposed to the development on two grounds. One reason was that the camp was an unauthorised development and contrary to the planing code and he claimed irreparable damage was caused to the ground.He read from a report from Ms Karen Gaynor of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), in which she stated that, in her view, the site should be removed and the sand-dunes be allowed to recover. She also said it would be take ten to 15 years for the land to recover fully once the site was removed.Mr Kiely said that while the people in the camp were ‘genuine protesters and conscientious objectors’, the Council were simply enforcing the law. He said there was no difference between the objectors and an ordinary person who conducts an unauthorised development.One of the four defendants, Mr Niall Harnett, said when the camp was first built they had sought consultation with the relevant authorities and had met with the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS) and the NPWS. He said they were never informed by anybody that the camp was an unauthorised development and called for further consultation with the Council.He also disputed claims from the Council of irreparable damage to the land. He presented a recent Environmental Impact Assessment by Mr Bob Wilson, Director of the Centre for Environmental Living and Training (CELT), which said there was no irreparable damage done. A petition of signatures from local people was presented to the court which stated that the function of the camp was to help protect the local environment.Mr Harnett asked for an adjournment for time to seek legal advice to oppose the application and felt he had grounds to do so.Mr Kiely said the Council were obliged to follow the law and he did not believe that environmentalists should be given any more sympathy. He said the court has ordered the removal of unauthorised developments even with a heavy heart.Judge Kenny said that Mr Hartlett and the group were entitled to some breathing space but he would not adjourn until October. He said that even though the law regarding unauthorised structures was ‘fairly cut and dried’ he still believed they were entitled to legal advice. He adjourned the hearing until Tuesday, July 31, but said the interim injunction would remain in place on the understanding that the Council would not undertake enforcement steps until after he gives his order.