Man released from prison agrees not to interfere with protected Midlands bog

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Man released from prison agrees not to interfere with protected Midlands bog

Man released from prison agrees not to interfere with protected Midlands bog

A man jailed for not complying with High Court orders not to interfere with lands designated as a National Heritage Area walked free from the Four Courts on Friday afternoon after purging his contempt.

Daragh Coyne was committed to Mountjoy prison by Mr Justice Anthony Barr four weeks ago after the judge found he was in "flagrant breach" of court orders obtained against him by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. 

When Mr Coyne, who has denied any wrongdoing, returned before the judge on Friday afternoon, his counsel told the court that he was prepared to comply with the orders.

He gave an undertaking to comply with previous orders made by the courts in relation to the lands. He said he would remove a gate and signage put on the lands and also told the judge, "I won't cut any turf" on the site. 

Mr Justice Barr said that based on the undertakings given to the court by Mr Coyne he was satisfied that Mr Coyne had purged his contempt, and "was free to go home."

The judge also agreed to a request by the service's counsel James O'Donnell Bl to adjourn the matter until late July to see if the undertakings have been complied with. 

In its proceedings against Mr Coyne, of Coralstown, Mullingar Co Westmeath, the service claimed he had engaged in activities that damaged Milltownpass Bog, in Co Westmeath, a designated NHA for several years.

The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, which is responsible for the service, previously obtained injunctions preventing Mr Coyne from carrying out any unauthorised works on or interfering with the NHA.

Mr Coyne had not complied with either that order, made last April, nor a subsequent order requiring him to remove a gate he erected on an old turf cutters track, located on the Minister's lands, the service argued.

The lands in question are owned by both the Minister, and by a member of Mr Coyne's family. The court also previously heard that waste material including scrap metal and fuel have been dumped on, and turf had been illegally cut on the lands at the centre of the dispute.

The service claimed that following an inspection of the lands within the NHA they found piles contained material ranging from gardening waste containing 'cherry laurel' which is an highly invasive species, to scrap metal. Several large unsealed heavy-duty plastic oil tanks, on the lands, it was also claimed.

The service was concerned turf would be extracted from the NHA, because turf cutting equipment stored close to the where the material had been dumped. The service claimed that in 2019 Mr Coyne had engaged a contractor to cut turf on the NHA and it was feared he would cut turf on the lands again in 2020. 

Peat extraction from the bog was banned in 2017, the court heard.