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Kildare man wins appeal in Supreme Court and won't be forced to sell his family home to the IDA

The four-year battle comes to a conclusion today.

Updated 2.27pm

THE SUPREME COURT has upheld an appeal by a Kildare farmer, blocking a compulsory purchase order for his family home by IDA Ireland.

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Thomas Reid will now not be forced to sell and leave the property in Blakestown.

The five-judge court overturned an earlier High Court decision which would have allowed the IDA to purchase the site – located beside Intel’s Leixlip facility – for development.

He had appealed the High Court decision to the Supreme Court, claiming his property and constitutional rights were breached. He also said the development agency’s decision was flawed and unfair. Both the State and the IDA opposed the action.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie outside court, Mr Reid said it was a “good day for Ireland”, adding that the ruling hadn’t yet sunk in.

I haven’t taken it all in yet. It will take a few days I’m sure.

Asked what his plans are for the future, he said: “I don’t know really, I’m sure I”ll carry on as per usual, I’m not one who will step out of line.

It’s a good day for Ireland, other European Union states should pick up on what’s going on here.

The parties have been embroiled in the intense legal battle for the past four years after Mr Reid turned down its initial offer.

The IDA tried to use a compulsory purchase order – its first since 1988 – to buy the property located in Blakestown in north Kildare.

The building, on 72 acres, is situated between the Carton House estate in Maynooth and Intel’s facility in Leixlip.

In September 2013, the High Court ruled against Reid. Justice John Hedigan dismissed the challenge because the compulsory order was provided for by law.

The IDA is allowed – under the 1986 Industrial Development Act - to utilise such orders if development is likely to take place. And, in this instance, the High Court judge – who did express sympathy to the plaintiff – believed the national interest of further employment outweighed the personal interests of Mr Reid.

Reid told the Sunday Business Post’s Tom Lyons last week that he believes the State body is “acting as a stalking horse” for Intel.

However, the IDA has not mentioned the multinational in any public discussion about the case or in any of its submissions to court. It also told TheJournal.ie that it had no comment to make ahead of today’s ruling.

In his judgement, Justice Liam McKechnie said that the 1986 Act did not confer power on the IDA to acquire lands they had no immediate use for. He also said that the only reasonable conclusion from evidence presented by the authority was that it wanted Mr Reid’s lands “not because such lands are presently required by the IDA but rather that such are for future use”.

In consequence, it is suggested on behalf of Mr Reid that what the IDA is in fact doing is acquiring a ‘land bank’ for potential and prospective future use.

There is no provision for such an action in current law.

Justice McKechnie also set aside the High Court decision because the IDA did not set out who the user of the land would be, a disclosure also required by the legislation, and because there could be a perception of bias in the process as IDA chairman Liam O’Mahony was also a director of the consultant company used by the body.

In observations on the case, the judge also noted that the IDA was the only body involved in the attempt to buy Mr Reid’s land. He recommended that the process be separated.

Other proceedings

In 2012, An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission to Intel for a major development in the area despite objections from Reid. Local politicians welcomed the rejection of a subsequent appeal by the local farmer, pointing to thousands of possible new construction jobs and up to 800 future jobs in Intel.

Reid has lived in the house his entire life and it has been in his family since the early 1900s.

First published 6.01am; with reporting from Cliodhna Russell 

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