A judge in Cork has granted an urgent interim injunction against protesters who are said to have been impeding ponstruction of a seven house development outside Macroom under the belief that the houses are to be given to persons who have left war-torn Ukraine.
At a sitting of Cork Circuit Court, Judge Rosemary Horgan granted an interim injunction against protesters intimidating, threatening or obstructing construction workers at the development site on the Killarney Road, Lower Codrum, Macroom, Co Cork.
As it was an interim injunction, only the plaintiff, who is the owner of lands at Killarney Road, Lower Codrum, Macroom, was present in court on Thursday afternoon.
The defence will have an opportunity to respond when the case is back before the Washington Street Circuit Court on February 9th next.
Developers, Portlaw Development Ltd were represented by barrister Stephen O’Donoghue, BL.
Mr O’Donoghue said it was a very “urgent matter from the plaintiff’s point of view.”
“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 footage online] the protesters belief is that these houses will be used to house Ukraine nationals and they have taken issue with that.”
Mr O’Donoghue said that protesters 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.”
He told Judge Horgan that protesters have posted videoed footage online.
Mr O’Donoghue sought injunctive relief to stop protesters from obstructing the plaintiff, his servants or agents in entering or exiting the property.
His application also sought to stop protesters from preventing workers from carrying out their work, entering or trespassing at the site or threatening, intimidating or insulting workers at the development.
Judge Horgan asked Mr O’Donoghue about freedom of speech in relation to organised protests. He told the court that the reliefs applied for were not contrary to the right to protest.
“There is nothing to say they cannot congregate on the public footpath, but not lying on the ground [by vehicles] and intimidating and saying inappropriate, threatening or intimidating things to employees – that is not lawful protest. That [an injunction against such activity] is not a curtailment of free speech.”
Judge Horgan granted the interim injunction. The case will be back before the court again on February 9th next.