The seven-year battle between the landowners adjoining the track, Pat Fennell, Kieran Woods, Michel Gough, Tennyson Boyle, Vincent Behan, Denis P Behan, Adrian Casey, Declan Ryan, Ml. Connolly, John Reilly, Gerard Dowdall, Val Cummins, Tom Connolly and Padge Doyle, and the local authority ended when a legal settlement was announced before Judge Barry Hickson.
The dispute centred on a five-kilometre long stretch of the line between Ballyvoile and Kildermody in the Kilmacthomas area where farmers feared the new amenity would expose their lands to burglars, damage by fire and trespass.
Senior Counsel Michael Delaney, instructed by Lanigan and Curran, Solrs, for Waterford City & County Council, invited the court to rule on the settlement of the legal proceeding which dated back to 2008. Initially Waterford Co. Council sought an interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants, who were land owners, from interfering with preparatory works. The application for the interlocutory injunction was refused and undertakings were given by both sides not to interfere in any way with the line pending a full hearing of the action.
The action had now been settled with all the defendants except John Reilly, against whom proceedings had been discontinued.
The terms of the settlement were reduced to writing and signed by the relative defendants as well as three additional landowners, William Cummins, Pierce Casey and John Doyle whose property adjoined the line.
They were parties to the terms of settlement and they were bound by that undertaking for enforcement purposes.
The local authority had agreed to carry out accommodation works at various points on the line to facilitate crossing the track for agricultural use. As schedule of the works had been agreed, he said.
Mr Delaney, SC., handed 12 documents into court signed by the Chief Executive Officer of Waterford City & County Council Michael Walsh and he asked the court to receive them and place them on the court file.
Barrister Derek Dunne, instructed by Mary T Ronayne, solr., for the defendants, said both parties agreed to be released from the undertaking given to Judge Oliver Buttimer in Wexford Circuit Court on December 9th, 2008 save in respect of Michael Connolly, who was negotiating separately with the Council.
Mr Delaney SC., said that counter claims made by certain defendants in respect of adverse possession were dismissed. Costs were agreed and sums of money were to be paid by the Council to the defendants in discharge of their costs.
One outstanding defendant Mr Connolly did not settle and it was intended to proceed against him if a settlement could not be reached. The action against him should be adjourned and if necessary the Council would seek an appropriate trial date in the Michaelmas Sessions.
After the hearing Jimmy Mansfield, Senior Executive Engineer, Waterford City & County Council, said the settlement of the proceedings against 12 of the 13 defendants opened the way for the Council to carry out development of the Kilmacthomas section of the track. It was a very satisfactory that the dispute had been “put to bed”.
Farmer Pat Fennell of Ballyvoile, Stradbally, said it was a long battle with a total of 10 court appearances in Waterford, Wexford, Tipperary and Dublin.
He praised the efforts of Council CEO Michael Walsh who was prepared to listen to the fears and concerns of the landowners and provide the accommodation works needed such as fencing off and securing lands.