By Gordon Deegan
A judge has pleaded with opposing farmers in a long running right of way court dispute not to bring “more hatred, bitterness or even tragedy on any of your families”.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Brian O’Callaghan said that court proceedings concerning the right of way at Calluragh, Ennistymon, Co. Clare “have been going in and out of this court for the past 20 years”.
Judge O’Callaghan stated: “It is quite clear to this court that in 20 years, that common sense has yet to visit the households of the Scales and Madigan families.”
The judge warned both sides that if the matter comes back before the court again, the court will take the next step “and either one or both parties will be heading for prison very quickly for contempt of court”.
Judge O’Callaghan said: “People have been injured badly because of disputes like this. Please don’t bring more hatred, bitterness or even tragedy on any of your families.
“I am inviting both sets of parties to take a step back, buy ‘a bottle of cop-on’ and to drink from it,” the judge added.
Right of way court dispute
The first court order concerning the initial proceedings involving Joseph Scales and PJ Madigan and Anne Madigan was first made in June 2002 at Ennis Circuit Court.
Since then, a further 11 court orders have been made including one in 2003, two in 2006, one in 2007, one in 2008, two in 2009 and two in 2010.
Joseph Scales passed on the farm and the right of way to his son, Jody Scales in 2014.
Judge O’Callaghan said: “This court has to ask both parties ‘would ye for heaven sake stand back and realise what ye could do over 20 years of life, without having to come into court and spend money continuously on legal expenses?
“These proceedings are absolutely ridiculous.
“My good colleague, Judge Carroll Moran was obliged in 2002 to make an order telling both sets of parties that yes, the right of way existed and that one party who had the right of way, the plaintiffs (Joseph Scales), were entitled to turn their tractor, but they couldn’t park it.
“The right of way is valid and legal and must be respected by both parties.”
Counsel for Scales, barrister Pat Whyms, was seeking his costs from the various court proceedings, after alleged breaches by the Madigans concerning a court order relating to the right of way since August 2020.
Judge O’Callaghan said that Pat Whyms was quite right to make the application and has ordered that the Madigans pay €2,000 towards the Scales’ costs.
The judge said: “This is the final order that I hope that the court makes in these proceedings.”
In her statement, opened up to the court, farmer Anne Madigan stated that the Madigans have occupied lands at Callura West going back to the 1830s.
The most recent flashpoint in the long-running dispute concerned Jody Scales and the Madigans in August and October 2020. Barrister Pat Whyms said that there was relative peace on the ground before this.
In Jody Scales’ statement, read out in court by the barrister, Jody Scales stated that his tractor was blocked on the right of way by a car owned by the Madigans on August 9, 2020.
Scales said that on October 11, 2020, he was prevented from driving his tractor back down the right of way, as the Madigans had placed two cars across the right of way.
In her own replying statement opened up before the court, Anne Madigan said that she placed her car across the right of way on August 9, to prevent damage Jody Scales’ tractor was going to cause to either side of the right of way by transporting 15 bales and more.
Anne Madigan said that on October 11, her husband PJ parked his car along the route to block Jody Scales’ tractor, over fears of the damage that the tractor would cause to the foundations of their home.