CORK Harbour residents who lost a legal action this week involving the two proposed incinerators for Ringaskiddy now fear the State will pursue them for legal costs.
The residents had mounted two legal challenges to the hazardous waste incinerators but wanted these challenges adjourned until a related case being taken by the European Commission against Ireland was decided in the European Court of Justice.
On Thursday, however, the Supreme Court rejected the residents’ bid to have their challenges adjourned.
Yesterday, the residents said they had learned that the State was intent on pursuing them for the legal costs of their unsuccessful action.
But Green Party senator Dan Boyle claimed this would be akin to “legal bullying” and called on the State not to chase the residents for costs.
“These individuals have been following an important legal principle that national cases, such as this incinerator case, can be adjourned pending a decision at the European Court of Justice,” he said.
“The Supreme Court has decided that the cases can be heard in parallel and those who have taken this action have accepted this verdict.
“To further seek a pound of flesh by asking for costs from ordinary citizens, known to be without assets and whose actions are motivated only by having the law in this area clarified, amounts to legal bullying.”
But in calling for the State not to pursue costs, Mr Boyle highlighted yet another difficulty for his party caused by the fact the Greens are in Government.
The Environment Minister is Green Party leader John Gormley, whose department is centrally involved in the case. The department said it was unaware yesterday whether a formal decision had been taken to pursue the residents for costs.
But Mr Boyle said, in his personal opinion, “the Green Party in Government cannot be associated with the use of the legal system as a form of intimidation against those whose only motivation is the maintenance of the highest possible standards of environmental protection”.
He said he would raise the issue with Mr Gormley when the minister returns from holiday this month.
“I’m presuming that this is a decision that has been made by the State’s legal officer, in the form of the Attorney General. However, as this is an environmental action, it is also being taken against the minister and the Department of the Environment and I will be calling on the minister to seek not to have these costs pursued.”