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CHILLING WARNING Former Mayor 'threatened' environmentalist with IRA over pipeline dispute, court told

Judge Garrett Simons heard the 'threat' was alleged to have been issued by the now-retired councillor and former Roscommon ­Mayor Paddy Kilduff

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Paddy Kilduff tells the Sunday World he will not be talking.

Paddy Kilduff tells the Sunday World he will not be talking.

Tony Lowes

Tony Lowes

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Paddy Kilduff tells the Sunday World he will not be talking.

Former Roscommon Mayor Paddy Kilduff was named in the High Court as having 'threatened' an environmentalist with 'consequences' from parties 'linked to the IRA' - unless his group withdrew a challenge to a drainage scheme.

The High Court was told of the 'threat' on Wednesday as 'Friends of the Irish Environment' (FIE) succeeded in an action halting work on an overflow pipe at Lough Funshinagh in Co Roscommon.

Work had begun on the project without the environmental ­impact assessments after a number of homes adjacent to the Lough were flooded last winter.

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Abandoned house that was flooded up to the windowsills.

Abandoned house that was flooded up to the windowsills.

Abandoned house that was flooded up to the windowsills.

Judge Garrett Simons heard the 'threat' to FIE director Tony Lowes was alleged to have been issued by the now-retired councillor and former Roscommon ­Mayor Paddy Kilduff.

The barrister for the FIE Jon Kenny said Mr Lowes had recently been told by a third party from south Roscommon that he would be "exposed to undefined consequences" from parties in the area that had links to the Provisional IRA and or Continuity IRA should the group continue with its challenge.

He said the person who informed Mr Lowes of the threat was Mr Kilduff.

He said this was put to Roscommon County Council who condemned the threat.

Peter Bland SC for the council said his client was abhorred and appalled and that a threat against a litigant was an ­"attack against the rule of law".

He said his client was consenting to ­orders against it and accepted that it had not fulfilled certain obligations it ought to have in relation to the flood relief works.

The Sunday World understands that gardaí in Roscommon have begun inquiries into the allegations and have contacted Mr Lowes, who is understood to have made a formal statement on the matter to officers in Castletownbere Garda station in Cork.

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Mary Beatty looks out at the flood protection.

Mary Beatty looks out at the flood protection.

Mary Beatty looks out at the flood protection.

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He has also handed over screenshots of phone records showing he received a call lasting more than 18 minutes from a number associated with Mr Kilduff on Tuesday, the day before the court was due to hear the challenge.

Approached at his home in Glanduff, Roscommon, on ­Friday and asked about the allegation, Mr Kilduff told the Sunday World: "I'm sorry, I won't be talking to you."

Earlier this month FIE had launched proceedings aimed at quashing Roscommon County Council's decision to allow works, including the construction of a 3km pipeline taking water from Lough Funshinagh to Lough Ree.

The works included the construction and laying of the pipe that would see water from Lough Funshinagh, which is a Special Area of Conservation, pumped into the larger Lough Ree.

The works were started ­because a number of properties in the area have been subject to flooding in recent years, and there are concerns that some may have to abandon their homes.

In its action, FIE claimed the proposed works, which started some weeks ago, had the potential to lead to serious environmental damage and priority habitat loss.

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Mary Beatty speaking with reporter Patrick O’Connell.

Mary Beatty speaking with reporter Patrick O’Connell.

Mary Beatty speaking with reporter Patrick O’Connell.

And while it expressed its sympathies to those affected by flooding, it said that the proposed works are not lawful and were in breach of European law, on grounds including that the project was not subjected to the required environmental screening and assessment.

However, news that FIE had ­succeeded in its challenge was met with devastation on the flood-hit banks of Lough Funshinagh.

Farm-owner Mary Beatty - whose home is defended by a wall of sandbags, pumps, and a raised road - said she believes her home will be submerged by the Lough this winter unless the pipeline is completed.

Her nearest neighbour, Mary Lyons O'Mara, has already been forced to abandon her home after it was submerged in several feet of water from the Lough last winter.

"It's desperate," she said of the news that the environmental group had succeeded in its challenge.

"I don't know what will happen this winter now. If they don't allow the pipe to continue we are going to be in trouble. It will come in on top of us because the water level hasn't gone down.

"When the winter rains come, up it's going to go. Every day when we get up we're looking out at this mess. There were nights last ­winter when Paraic (Mary's son) got up to see whether the water was already in.

"That group who took the case should come down here and see this. I wonder have they ever set foot on the Lough and seen what's happening to our homes."

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Laurence Fallon.

Laurence Fallon.

Laurence Fallon.

She said: "Come next winter this could be all over, our home gone.

"I've told people I'll take the kettle upstairs with me to see if I can stick it out a bit longer.

"Where are we going to go? We can't just move into town with the stock there… sheep will be lambing and cows will be calfing."

Another resident, Laurence ­Fallon, who was born and reared in the area said although he was unlikely to lose his home as he is further away from the flood-zone, he is heartbroken over what could happen to the village.

"The thought of splitting a village in two and removing people 82 and 83 years of age and forcing them out of their home is heart-breaking," he said.

"In another two or three months, if the pipe had been allowed, we would have had the solution for them. We can say everybody is right to follow the full legal process and I accept the legal process.

"But I have to say the consequences of the actions that have been taken here for the people around the Lough will be far greater than any perception that we didn't do the right thing in law."

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