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National Party co-founder loses bid for injunction against farmers association

The ICSA sought to remove James Reynolds from senior positions he had held with the organisation.

File photo of James Reynolds
File photo of James Reynolds
Image: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

THE HIGH COURT has dismissed an application by National Party co-founder James Reynolds to continue an injunction preventing the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) from removing him from senior positions he had held with the organisation.

The ICSA said it decided to remove Reynolds as a member of the County Executive for Longford and its National Executive as the National Treasurer because of his involvement with the National Party which it described as being “in the mode of right-wing European movements”.

Reynolds opposed the ICSA’s action against him and argued it is not entitled to remove him from the said positions.

In High Court proceedings against the ICSA he claimed the procedures it engaged in to remove him were unfair. His removal from the positions would also damage his reputation, he claimed.

Earlier this year Reynolds, of Rorkes Drift, Laughill Coolarty, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, secured a temporary High Court injunction restraining the ICSA from taking any steps to remove him from the positions.

The court also made a temporary order preventing the farming group, which has 10,000 members, from holding any meeting related to his removal.

Today his lawyers sought to extend the injunction until the matter has been fully determined by the High Court. The ICSA argued that the injunction should be dismissed.

In his ruling today, Justice Paul Gilligan said he was satisfied not to put an injunction in place until the dispute had been determined.

The judge noted the ICSA held a special meeting last November to discuss Reynolds’ involvement in the National Party which is opposed to unrestricted immigration, anti-abortion and favours the reintroduction of the death penalty for certain crimes.

Noting the breakdown in the relationship between the two parties the judge said “the views of the National Party are in direct conflict and are at odds to those of the ICSA”.

The judge said ICSA members were unhappy and had to distance itself from comments Reynolds posted on social media.

The comments were about politicians and people in public life, using words like crooked and treason. He had also made comments about the Church of Ireland that the ICSA deemed offensive.

Reynolds had also gone on the Claire Byrne Live TV programme, where he spoke on behalf of the National Party, and criticised the efforts of the Irish Naval Service in rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean.

Reynolds had also said that RTÉ and Newstalk published fake news stories.

The ICSA as a lobby group seeks good relations with elected public officials, public servants and the media, the judge said.

The ICSA, he added, does not support or endorse any political party, and it believed Reynolds had used his position to gain air time and traction for the National Party.

In these circumstances alone the balance of convenience did not favour the granting of an injunction, the judge said.

‘Gratuitously offensive’

The judge said Reynolds had not made a strong case that was likely to succeed, and he was satisfied damages would be an adequate remedy.

He said that Reynolds’ application could also be rejected on grounds including that he delayed in bringing his proceedings and he had not disclosed all the relevant information to the High Court when seeking the temporary injunction.

The judge also awarded the ICSA its legal costs of the application.

In a statement released today, the ICSA said its management committee “had taken these steps because it determined that being deputy president of the National Party and acting as its spokesman could not be reconciled with also being the ICSA treasurer”.

The ICSA also objected to the “gratuitously offensive nature of comments made on social media by Mr Reynolds regarding the former Taoiseach, the EU Commissioner and other politicians”.

The organisation said, as a lobbying organisation, it “will continue to fight for farmers with all political parties using the credibility it has built up over many years as a fair, neutral and determined advocate”.

With reporting by Órla Ryan

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