AN urgent injunction was granted against protesters intimidating, threatening, or obstructing construction workers completing a seven-house development outside Macroom.
Gardaí have visited the site following recent incidents involving protesters who were described as acting in the belief that the houses are to be offered to people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Judge Rosemary Horgan granted an interim injunction against the protesters carrying out certain actions at the site on Killarney Rd, Lower Codrum, Macroom, Co Cork.
The judge said there would be an opportunity for the other side to appear at Cork Circuit Court on Washington St, Cork, on Thursday, February 9, to respond to the injunction.
The relief sought by developers, Portlaw Development Ltd, through its barrister Stephen O’Donoghue, was for injunctive relief preventing the defendants from:
- Obstructing the plaintiff, his servants or agents, in entering or exiting the property;
- Preventing workers from carrying out work;
- Entering or trespassing at the site;
- Threatening, intimidating, or insulting people working on the development.
Judge Horgan granted the interim injunction on all four points but before doing so, she asked the plaintiff’s barrister: “What about freedom of speech and organised protests, have you anything to say about that?”
Mr O’Donoghue said the reliefs sought were not against the right to protest. “There is nothing to say they cannot congregate on the public footpath, but not lying on the ground (by construction vehicles) and intimidating and saying inappropriate, threatening, or intimidating things to employees — that is not lawful protest. That (an injunction against such behaviour) is not a curtailment of free speech.”
Outlining the background that gave rise to the interim injunction application, Mr O’Donoghue said: “It is a very urgent matter from the plaintiff’s point of view. The plaintiff is the owner of lands at Killarney Rd, Lower Codrum, Macroom, on the way out of town towards Baile Bhuirne.
“In the past there existed five houses which were not completed. It was referred to as a ghost estate. The plan is to complete those five houses and build two further houses — pre-fabricated concrete houses, constructed off-site and assembled on-site.
“Protesters arrived, some of them wrapped in Irish flags and waving Irish flags. It is quite clear (from internet footage) the protesters’ belief is that these houses will be used to house Ukraine nationals and they have taken issue with that. They are impeding and preventing construction. One protester lay behind a construction vehicle. Serious injury could have been caused to that protester. Gardaí had to be called to the scene.
“Employees and contractors have been intimidated, threatened and abused on the presumption that they are catering for future housing needs of Ukraine nationals.”
Mr O’Donoghue said the protesters have posted video comments and footage from protests at the location.
By the nature of an application for an interim injunction, only the plaintiff was represented at Cork Circuit Court yesterday. The defence will have an opportunity to address the court on the injunction on February 9.