Work to stabilise land after ‘suspected tunnelling’ behind terrace could cost €300,000 

It could cost about €300,000 to stabilise a cliff-like slope behind a 20-house hillside terrace in Dublin following suspected unauthorised tunnelling, the Circuit Civil Court has heard. 
Judge Francis Comerford was told on Monday that there was a continuing danger to life and property from soil and rock falling into the back gardens of the Weirview Cottages, which overlook the River Liffey in Lucan. 
 
The court has heard that the owner of one property, Thomas Kelly, claimed to have bought the title to the back gardens of his 19 neighbours from a development company. 
 
Johny Mooney, a journalist with the Sunday Times, told the court he could not believe it when he was told that his back garden, and those of his neighbours, had been bought from under them. 
 
Geotechnical engineer Ciaran Reilly told barrister James McGowan, counsel for Mr Mooney and four of his neighbours, that when he inspected the area behind the cottages he found a 2m high tunnel had been carved into the face of the slope. He told Mr McGowan, who appeared with solicitors McCarthy and Associates, that there was a continuing danger of rock falls and that some had fallen into two gardens. 
 
Dangerous areas 
Mr Reilly said that in a joint inspection with engineer Greg Daly, for Mr Kelly, they had surmised a wire mesh netting cover of the dangerous areas would likely be the most prudent and safest way of stabilising the area. It was estimated that this could cost more than €300,000. 
 
He said there may be severe budgetary constraints with regard to stabilising the area, which required urgent and immediate attention. 
 
Mr Mooney, Pat Howlett, William Stapleton, Pio O’Leary and Edward Roche are seeking legal declarations that they have legal ownership of their back gardens and are entitled to right of way to access them. 
 
The residents say that for years, if not generations, occupants of their homes have had the use of private gardens extending well beyond their back yards. They are claiming ownership of their gardens by way of adverse possession for more than 12 years. 
 
The court heard Mr Kelly had bought the land incorporating the back gardens from Shannon Homes, which had developed Laraghcon on the cliff behind Weirview. 
 
‘Land grab’ 
Mr Kelly, who is represented by barrister Richard Downey and Fitzgerald Solicitors, has not yet given evidence to the trial. Mr Downey said the plaintiffs were involved in a “land grab” against Mr Kelly. 
 
Barrister Rory Kennedy, appears with Keith Walsh Solicitors for Paul Lynam, one of a trio of neighbours Mr Kelly was previously convicted of having harassed and who instigated High Court civil proceedings against him. 
 
Mr Kelly (66) was previously found guilty at Blanchardstown District Court of harassing three of his neighbours, including Mr Lynam and Mr Mooney, and was given a suspended four-month sentence. He has already given undertakings not to harass or trespass. 
 
The case continues. 
 
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