Two men remanded in custody will remain in prison after they refused to vacate a Roscommon house and farm in dispute before the courts.
Michael Anthony McGann, who owns the farm at Falsk, Strokestown, Co Roscommon, and retired Garda Kevin Taylor of Dublin Road, Longford were both taken to prison on Wednesday after Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds heard the pair were in contempt of a recent order to vacate the property.
When the case returned to court yesterday, the pair refused to give an undertaking to comply with the order and will therefore continue to be held behind bars.
Repeating claims via video link from Mountjoy prison that KBC Bank had committed fraud and that evidence was being covered up, Mr McGann said he was not prepared to give any undertaking to leave the property.
Mr. Taylor said he had acted “in the interests of justice for 30 years” and if forced to stay in prison “for the rest of my life”, then “so be it”.
The decision to remand the pair will be reviewed next week.
The men had been arrested on Wednesday morning at their respective addresses and brought to the High Court by Gardaí.
KBC Bank previously obtained vacant possession of the farm via a court injunction, but claims the men have refused to leave the property.
Counsel for KBC Bank Rossa Fanning and Keith Rooney told the court they did not want to see the men stay in prison, but that their fate “was in their own hands.
The court heard from Mr. Rooney on Wednesday that Mr. Taylor was involved in a “co-ordinated attempt to frustrate the orders of the court,” whilst Mr. McGann’s claim on social media that he was not leaving despite promising the court to do so was a “flagrant breach of court orders.”
McGann claims that a previous injunction from was based on fraud, evidence for which he says was provided to the court, and that his undertaking to leave the property had been given under duress.
Ms Justice Reynolds dismissed the claims, saying “the ship had sailed” in regards to that injunction, with siblings Michael Anthony, David, and Geraldine McGann having given undertakings last month to remove their livestock and leave the property following their arrest.
She also criticised Mr. Taylor’s failure to wear a mask in court, whilst his attempts to leave the courtroom were frustrated by Gardaí.
KBC told the court it was unable to secure the property because of several individuals remaining on the land. Justice Reynolds advised the men to seek legal advice on their position, telling them the court would make a decision on the matter tomorrow.
The December 2018 eviction was widely criticised when footage emerged of the McGann brothers being dragged out of the property by a private security firm as Gardaí attended the scene.
The security firm’s jeeps were later burned out at night by a gang who attacked the men with clubs as they occupied the property.
The same firm that repossessed the house was ordered to pay fines totalling €3,000 last month for being unlicensed to carry out the eviction.
The Armagh company was found guilty at Castlerea District Court of six breaches of the Private Security Services Act.
Judge Deirdre Gearty fined the company €500 on each of six counts with costs of €7,500 awarded against the company.
The 2018 eviction occurred after Mr Michael Anthony McGann failed to repay KBC Bank €431,000 from a loan secured several years before.