They've spent five months in prison over their interference with a bank's lawful takeover of a Co Roscommon farm
Two men jailed over their interference with a bank's lawful takeover of a Co Roscommon farm which was the subject of a controversial eviction in 2018 have asked the High Court to release them from custody.
The application was made by lawyers representing Michael Anthony McGann, who owns the property at Falsk, Strokestown, Co Roscommon, and Kevin Taylor, a retired garda of Dublin Road, Longford, were among three men arrested at the house last year for interference with efforts by KBC Bank's agents to secure the property following the eviction.
They were found to be in contempt a week later and were lodged in Mountjoy Prison, where they have spent almost five months.
A third man, Colm Granahan from Ballina in Mayo, purged his contempt before the court and was released shortly before Christmas.
The two other men remain in prison and at Thursday's sitting of the High Court Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds reviewed their cases, with the men attending via a video link from the prison.
Counsel for the men Brendan Donelon Bl said that the men should be released.
Counsel said he was basing his application on a recent High Court decision, in a separate unrelated action, recently given by Mr Justice Senan Allen,
Mr Justice Allen ordered the release of a businessman Fergal Deery who had spent 115 days in Mountjoy for being in contempt of court.
Counsel said the coercive and punitive elements of the contempt findings against the two men had been satisfied.
How much longer did they need to spend in jail, counsel asked.
Counsel added that his clients, who do not accept they were in contempt of court, were also prepared to giver undertakings not to interfere with the property.
KBC's lawyers and the court expressed concerns over the terms of the undertakings being offered.
Following a consultation between the men and their lawyers the court heard that the two men were prepared to give undertakings to stay away from, not trespass and not interfere with the farm, if KBC were prepared to give a similar undertaking.
In reply Rossa Fanning SC, for KBC said such a demand was “complete nonsense” adding that what the applicants were doing was an attempt to re-open a case that has already been decided.
That was, counsel said, something that “was not going to work."
While the bank did not wish to see the men in prison the ball was in their own court in relation to securing their release by purging their contempt and complying with the orders of High Court.
Ms Justice Reynolds, who after being informed by Mr McGann that he had only a very short time to consult with his lawyers, who had only come on record in recent days, adjourned the case.
This was to allow the men have further consultations with their legal team.
The hearing will resume on Friday morning.