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Martyr for a cause

Michael McCoy was a hero who defended the beautiful Dublin mountains from over-development

A man whose body was found in the Dublin mountains on Friday 30 September had successfully campaigned to have a quarrying operation in the area closed down last year.

Michael McCoy, a father of three in his early sixties, who was last seen walking his dogs in the Brittas area of county Dublin on the previous day, was a leading member of the Dublin Mountain Conservation Group.

Last October, he won a landmark judgment when the High Court ordered the closure of the quarrying operation on the site of the 465 metre Butler Mountain near Brittas, county Dublin.

Ms Justice Marie Baker ordered that the unauthorised quarrying by Shillelagh Quarries Ltd should cease and remediation work carried out.

McCoy’s successful application for an order to cease the quarrying operations on a 3.27 hectare area of a larger 25-hectare site was supported by South Dublin County Council. Two special areas of conservation (SACs) are located near the quarry site.

The case was taken against Shillelagh Quarries Ltd and the site owners.

According to the heritage officer of An Taisce, Ian Lumley, McCoy was a committed environmentalist whose main concern was that developments in the scenic Dublin mountain area where he lived should comply with the law. This despite much of the media implausibly describing the killing as resulting from a “land dispute”.

“I was in regular contact with Mr McCoy over the years”, Lumley told Village. “He was very focused on the surrounding environment. All he was concerned with was that development activity should be in compliance with the law. He was a reasonable, measured and sensible person who was also realistic when it came to the legal process. He campaigned about illegal dumping, quarrying activities and development generally if he felt they threatened the environment”.

In her judgment last year, Judge Baker rejected a claim by the quarry operators and landowners that the works had commenced before the coming into force of planning legislation in 1964 and were therefore exempted and not unauthorised.

She also rejected their argument that the case was time barred and/or that the council and Mr McCoy were guilty of such prolonged and unexplained delay that the court should refuse the orders sought.

Ms Justice Baker said Shillelagh Quarries Ltd. had carried out their commercial activities despite a refusal of their application for planning permission by An Bord Pleanála in 2010.

She said that the quarrying work had “created a discordant landscape in an area of exceptional public amenity”.

A man believed to have been known to Mr McCoy was arrested and later released without charge a day after the discovery of the dead man’s body close to a forest track at Ballinascorney Hill near Brittas at 4.00 a.m. on the Friday morning. A file has been prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions. The distress of McCoy’s family has been aggravated by the disappearance of one of their long-tailed boxer dogs and they have issued pleas for help in finding the dog, who was seen on the Ballinascorney Road, and asked anyone finding her to take her to the DSPCA.

Mourners follow Michael McCoy's family to St. Maelruain's Church of Ireland in Tallaght.
Mourners follow Michael McCoy’s family to St. Maelruain’s Church of Ireland in Tallaght.


Imminent judgment in ‘Three Trouts’ defamation action

Elsewhere, Judge Baker is expected to deliver her judgment later this month in the long running defamation case brought by a member and former member of Wicklow County Council against the council and now retired county manager, Eddie Sheehy.

Councillor Tommy Cullen and former councillor Barry Nevin took the action following comments in a press release issued by the council in April 2013 which accused the politicians of making “unfounded and misconceived” allegations in relation to the compulsory purchase of lands by the council close to Three Trout stream at Charlesland near Greystones several years previously.

The press release said that the “misconceived” allegations of Cullen and Nevin has resulted in a loss to the Council of circa €200,000 in respect of interest foregone and administrative costs in addition to the costs of an independent review commissioned by then environment minister, Phil Hogan into the CPO.

The defamation claim was first rejected by the Circuit Court two years ago but the decision was appealed and the case continued for several weeks in the High Court earlier this year.

Councillor Cullen last week met environment minister, Simon Coveney, and asked him to complete the long promised review by his department into a series of allegations in relation to planning and rezoning matters, as well as illegal dumping, in county Wicklow.


By Frank Connolly