SOLICITOR, Will Leahy described a long-running case in Kilmallock Court coming to an end as the “miracle of Christmas”.
It concerns a Limerick council prosecution over a farmer’s lack of a septic tank. It first came before Judge Marian O’Leary in September 2016. William O’Keeffe, of Ardroe, Pallasgreen was taken to court under the Water Pollution Act.
Kilmallock Court heard that there was no septic tank installed in the rural cottage.
A council employee said: “It is an open hole on the site. A septic tank needs to be installed. It is going to ground water and causing pollution.” They gave the cost of installing one at between €2,000 and €10,000.
Solicitor for William O’Keeffe, Brendan Gill said: “He is the sole occupant of the house. The amount of waste wouldn’t be very high.”
The case was adjourned on the first occasion as William O’Keeffe is one of three co-owners with two siblings. The property was left to the three of them.
His sister and brother were then prosecuted under the Water Pollution Act.
His sister then gave her share of the house to William O’Keeffe and proceedings were dropped against her. His brother - Patrick O’Keeffe, Ballinagrane, Kilteely - was then brought before the courts for “ongoing water pollution”.
There have been many adjournments over the last two years to see if the parties can resolve the issue. There are also separate civil proceedings involving the brothers in the Circuit Court.
On a number of occasions, Robin Lee, solicitor for Patrick O’Keeffe, applied for matters to be struck out against his client.
“My client says he hasn’t stood in this property in 17 years. My client has had no act or part in creating this pollution.
“To get into that land my client would have to go through Billy’s (William O’Keeffe’s) land. My client is fearful of setting foot on that land and what might result,” said Mr Lee.
At every adjournment, Mr Leahy said: “The council’s costs are going up every time this comes before the court. The pollution matter is ongoing.”
Then at the last Kilmallock Court in December, Mr Leahy told Judge O’Leary he was “happy to inform” her that there has been a “breakthrough”.
“William O’Keeffe has 90% of the work done on the septic tank. The inspector is happy with the work,” said Mr Leahy.
“It’s the miracle of Christmas,” said Mr Leahy.
Judge O’Leary said it was the best news that she had got all day.
“Likewise,” said Mr Gill, solicitor for William O’Keeffe.
Judge O’Leary said: “I was thinking about this case last night.”
It was adjourned until January 15 for finalisation and the matter of costs.