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Sligo woman arrested after blocking EirGrid pylon crew

Marese McDonagh - Irish Times

A CO Sligo mother arrested after a confrontation with workers on a pylon project said yesterday she would go to jail rather than allow the pylons to be built on her land.

Gardaí were called to the scene for the second consecutive day after Sharon Mullen told the EirGrid workers she did not want them on the farm she and her husband Pat own in the Keash area.

“We don’t want trouble,” said Ms Mullen, who was arrested and taken to Ballymote Garda station after telling workers to get off her land on Tuesday. If EirGrid agreed to put the power line underground, “I would go in and dig the hole for them myself”, she added.

Gardaí were called to the scene after Ms Mullen told the workers they could not access her farm. More than a dozen people demonstrated at the gate in support of the Mullens. The family bought the farm 10 years ago.

“My husband  proposed to me on this very land. We had hoped to build our home here. We worked very hard to build up the farm,” Ms Mullen said. The Mullens, who said they had turned down compensation of more than €40,000, expressed concern about the impact on the health of their three children, aged seven months, two and eight, if the power line and pylons go through their land.

“It is a hard thing to say when you have small children but we would go to jail because we have to protect the children and their future,” Ms Mullen said.

The plan to construct a high-voltage line from Flagford, Co Roscommon to Srananagh, Co Sligo, has been dogged by controversy for more than 10 years because of resistance by some landowners who have pleaded with them to put the line underground for health and safety reasons.

EirGrid  confirmed one landowner was blocking access  to construction crews “despite exhaustive efforts to resolve the issue by discussion”.

A spokeswoman said an ex parte order had been granted by Mr Justice Roderick Murphy in the High Court last Friday and had been extended on Monday until February 8th, when the matter comes before the court again.

The company said the court had confirmed that in the meantime work could continue on the landowner’s property.