Judge orders arrest of persons found on controversial Strokestown farm

Gardai could use all reasonable force necessary to enforce the court's order

Aodhan O'Faolain

Reporter:

Aodhan O'Faolain

Man released without charge in relation to Strokestown incident

The property at Falsk, Strokestown

A High Court judge has ordered the arrest of any person found in occupation of a Co Roscommon farm, which was the scene of a controversial eviction in 2018.  

The orders were made by Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds against three named individuals, and any other person found to be in occupation of the property at Falsk, Strokestown in Co Roscommon.

The judge said she was satisfied to order the arrest of Michael Anthony McGann, who owns the property, former Garda Kevin Taylor of Dublin Road, Longford and Colm Granahan from Ballina, Co Mayo.

The court heard evidence from KBC, which previously obtained an injunction granting it vacant possession of the farm, that the three remain on the property.

The Judge said it was clear that individuals were engaged in "a consorted effort to undermine an order of the High Court."

The three individuals, along with any other person found in occupation, are to be brought before the court by the Gardai to answer their alleged contempt, the Judge directed.

The Judge she was making the orders "with regret" but the court had to "bring some finality" to the long running action.

The Judge said orders of the court must be complied with. The Gardai could use all reasonable force necessary to enforce the court's order, she added.

The farm has been the subject of proceedings involving siblings Michael Anthony, David, and Geraldine McGann, and KBC Bank, which secured orders allowing it repossess the property. 

Last month the siblings were brought before the Court, following their arrest by Gardai, to answer claims that they were in contempt of an order directing them to leave the property.

The three were released after they gave undertakings to leave their home, and remove their livestock from the farm.

However, KBC returned to court claiming it was unable to secure possession of the property due to the presence of several individuals on the farm.

On Friday Rossa Fanning SC for KBC said Mr Michael Anthony McGann, Mr Taylor, Mr Granahan and others were on the property.

He said a tractor had been parked of the front entrance to the property.  A gate had also been padlocked, counsel said.

Counsel said that despite previously giving an undertaking not to return to the farm Michael Anthony McGann had gone back, and had said in a video posted on social media that he would "not be abandoning the property,"

Counsel said all those on the property were "well aware" of the High Court order directing all persons to vacate the farm.

Counsel said his client had a "whack a mole" problem regarding who was on the property at any given time.

As well as the three named individuals, persons appeared to be coming and going from the farm, he said.

KBC it required an order allowing Gardai arrest any person found in occupation of the property.

Counsel said there was no evidence that either David or Geraldine McGann had breached their undertakings and the contempt proceedings against them could be adjourned. 

There was no appearance in court by any of the McGanns, nor by any of the individuals alleged to be in occupation of the property.

KBC Bank obtained an order for possession of the farm several years ago arising out of a €431,000 debt on the property from a loan to its registered owner Michael Anthony McGann.

The McGanns were evicted in 2018 but the house was later the scene of an attack on security men employed to secure it.  

The security men were forced off the property by a group of masked men and a number of vehicles were burnt.  

The McGanns, who were not involved in the incidents, returned to the house.

KBC sought to have them jailed for contempt of court by failing to vacate after they failed to comply with an order made in March to vacate the farm.

Matters were put on hold due to Covid-19. Last month the three McGanns were brought before the court over their alleged contempt, before being released.

The matter will return before the court at a later date.