*Garda Andrew Monahan (right). Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
A JUDGE has told an 80-year old Clare farmer to keep the peace and to wait for a court to rule on a long running right of way dispute.
At Ennis District Court, Judge Mary Larkin told Martin Neylon that he “can’t be calling out Garda Andrew Monahan every two minutes to be sorting out your difficulties”.
Judge Larkin told Mr Neylon, “You have to keep the peace between now”. She told him to open a gate across a disputed right of way between 12pm and 2pm every day to allow farmer, Donal O’Brien to access his lands pending a circuit court determination in the right of way row.
After Mr Neylon told Judge Larkin that he is 80, Judge Larkin said to him “and this is what you are fighting about at your age?”
Garda Andrew Monahan told the court that Mr Neylon believes that he has waited long enough for the circuit court to decide the matter and “that the lock should remain on the gate”.
Garda Monahan said, “We have a stand off where Martin Neylon says enough time has elapsed”.
Judge Larkin asked Martin Neylon what loss he was suffering in the dispute and Neylon replied “it is making things awkward for me”.
Judge Larkin told Martin Neylon that the civil case in the circuit court concerning the disputed right of way “will come on for hearing next year and surely you should allow the judge in the circuit court to decide if you have a case or if Mr O’Brien has a case”.
Judge Larkin told Mr Neylon: “That is what you are going to do and you are going to let Mr O’Brien go in between 12pm and 2pm every day.”
In an alleged criminal damage case concerning the row before the district court, Mr O’Brien (55) of Ballynacarhagh Kilfenora is charged with breaking the lock valued at €10 attached to a farm gate belonging to Martin Neylon at Cragballyconoal, Ballyvaughan on December 17th 2019.
Mr O’Brien is facing a second criminal damage charge where he is charged with cutting and breaking a farm gate to the value of €160 belonging to Martin Neylon at the same address between January 1st 2020 and January 8th 2020.
Counsel for Mr O’Brien, Brian McInerney SC told the court that the criminal case before the district court should not be heard until a circuit court hearing relating to the disputed right of way is heard.
Mr McInerney said that if circuit court finds that a right of way exists for Mr O’Brien, no lock should therefore be on the gate and Mr O’Brien is entitled to break the lock.
Mr McInerney said to Judge Larkin, “If you determine that my client, Mr O’Brien has no entitlement to break the lock and the civil case determines in the circuit court that he has a right of way well that would create all sorts of issues and difficulties.”
Sgt Aiden Lonergan told Judge Larkin that the law provides for her hearing the criminal damage case against Mr O’Brien.
Asked are there ongoing issues, Sgt Lonergan said: “Yes, there are still issues that require Garda Monahan to intervene and try to keep these settled down.”
However, Judge Larkin said: “I don’t believe that this should be here at all.”
Mr McInerney said that the case is coming before the circuit court after Mr O’Brien made an application at the Land Registry to register the right of way.
He said that Martin Neylon objected and the Land Registry said that it was a matter for a court order.
Judge Larkin adjourned the criminal damage prosecution against Mr O’Brien to May 24th next year to allow the civil case concerning the right of way be heard in the meantime.