PROTESTERS prevented the ESB from clearing a path through the land of jailed Offaly woman Teresa Treacy yesterday.
ESB and Eirgrid began clearing trees at the farm of Ms Treacy in Clonmore, Tullamore, Co Offaly, yesterday morning but were quickly halted by a group of around 10 protesters who blocked their way.
The protesters, from Offaly Against More Pylons, said they were there at the invitation of Ms Treacy, the 65-year-old landowner who has now spent 15 days in Mountjoy Prison in Dublin for refusing to allow the state electricity company access to her land to complete a power line.
Protester Oliver Choiseul said there was strong local support for Ms Treacy, and opposition to the power line which was being constructed across many local heritage sites without an environmental impact assessment. Gardai attended the scene but Superintendent John Moloney said they would not remove the demonstrators without a court order,.
ESB and Eirgrid said they were consider-ing their response to the situation and had no further comment regarding potential action against the protesters.
The companies said they had full planning permission for this "critical electricity infrastructure" and the work was 95pc complete.
"ESB and Eirgrid deeply regret that the situation has reached this juncture in relation to this landowner. This has arisen despite discussions over a three-year period to resolve the issue," they said.
One of the demonstrators, Cormac Lally, vowed to continue protesting until Ms Treacy is released. "We are down at her request, she shouldn't be in prison for a start," he said. "Where are the men of the country, where are the people, are we that dumbed down and cowed that we allow a pensioner thrown in jail?"
Ms Treacy was jailed on September 13 and is due to remain in prison until she purges her contempt for failing to comply with a court order to cease obstructing the work on her land.
Aideen Sheehan and Eoghan MacConnell