A case arising from friction about a right of way in Castletownbere, Co. Cork, could provide 10 lawyers with ‘eating and drinking and a good living’ if it went forward to a higher courts, Judge James McNulty remarked at Castletownbere District Court on Friday.
Giving his judgement in the case, he said that people who used a right of way should respect it especially if that right-of-way was not fully or truly established.
Castletownbere post man John O’Connor claimed Margaret Downey-Harrington was trying to stop him from using a right-of-way through her property to get to his boat.
She and members of her family claimed they saw O’Connor viciously kick a gate against a wall. The gate had been erected at the entrance to laneway which O’Connor used.
A summons against O’Connor for maliciously damaging the gate on February 25, 2006, was dismissed.
However, in a separate civil action for €900 damages, Judge McNulty found, on the balance of probabilities, that O’Connor caused some damage to the gates and awarded Ms. Downey Harrington €100.
O’Connor, of Droum Wrest, Castletownbere, was ordered to pay the entire costs of the action.
He was also bound to the peace and to be of good behaviour for three years on a bond of €10,000.
Ms. Downey Harrington, a widow and company Director, of Droum South, Castletownbere, was bound to be of good behaviour for three years, also on a bond of €10,000.
Judge McNulty said he was taking into account the risk of a breach of the peace of the conduct of the parties continued to go unrestrained.
In a lengthy judgement, Judge McNulty said the erection of the gates at the entrance to the laneway may have contributed ‘to the reason why we are all here today’. He said the gates might be left open on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer to allow for ease of access by people who felt entitled to go through the laneway.
He also said Mrs. Downey Harrington may have contributed to problems when she reproached individuals who felt they had rights of access through her property to get to public area. She may have asserted her rights to her property in manner which was ill-tempered and ill-considered.
‘She appears to have made a serious contribution to the improvement of this area in general, but the placing of wrought-iron gates at the front entrance to her property may have been unwise’, the Judge said.
© Irish Examiner
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