The District Court had strong words for Galway County Council for prosecuting a farmer over an unauthorised sheep pen, describing it as “lunacy”.
Galway County council brought a case against 64 year old Thomas Collins of Bullaun, Cummer, Corofin for breaching planning regulations with his makeshift sheep pen.
Though ultimately found in the council’s favour, Judge John King was critical of the decision to prosecute this matter saying it was “like using a cannon to swat a fly”.
According to the Irish Independent the court heard that the farmer had put up pillars on his land connected by gates to give him a space where he could gather sheep for shearing or to be loaded onto trucks.
Speaking on behalf of the defence, solicitor George Bruen argued that the “pen” is just a series of gates without any king of solid base, that’s only used occasionally.
When the sheep pen is not being used, he added, the gates fold away so they don’t cause an obstruction.
Mr Collins said that he only uses the pen a few times a year at most, and might not even keep it with the way that sheep farming is going.
But the county council argued that the structure was similar to a cattle crush and required planning permission, which Mr Collins had not tried to get.
Judge King said he had to convict Mr Collins based on the council’s assertion that this was an unauthorised development.
He fined Mr Collins just €1 for this offence.