Teresa Treacy on her property before she was jailed Teresa Treacy Support Group
Teresa Treacy

Thousands sign petition to free jailed woman Teresa Treacy

Tree-cutting has stopped over the weekend on the 65-year-old’s land, where a protest camp has been set up.

MORE THAN 4,000 people have signed an online petition calling for 65-year-old Teresa Treacy to be freed from prison.

Ms Treacy was jailed at Mountjoy Prison’s Dochas Centre two weeks ago for contempt of court after refusing to obey an order allowing Eirgrid and the ESB to carry out work on her land near Tullamore, Co Offaly. Ms Treacy has pledged to protect the trees on her property, where the two companies plan to construct an overhead power line.

The petition calls for Ms Treacy to be released and for an end to the stand-off, asking the ESB and Eirgrid to consider running the wires underground instead. It adds: “We believe it is unjust and undemocratic that she be jailed for trying to protect the environment of her privately-owned land.”

Some 4,081 people had added their signatures at the time of writing. According to a spokesperson for the Teresa Treacy Support Group, Ms Treacy has been informed by prison staff that the Dochas Centre has also received more than 25,000 letters and emails in support of her cause.

People have been taking to Twitter to express their support. Dublin councillor Gerard Mannix Flynn has urged people to lobby the seven presidential candidates over the issue, while musician Sharon Corr wrote:

Over the last week, protesters have been attempting to prevent contractors from felling trees at the site. Work has stopped over the weekend, with the ESB and Eirgrid saying yesterday that only a day and a half of tree cutting remains to be done.

However, the support group spokesperson suggested that the companies were exaggerating their progress to discourage people from becoming involved in a protest camp that has been set up on Ms Treacy’s land. He said work had stopped over the weekend, adding:

They have cut down a substantial amount of trees. But it would be our view that they are exaggerating to create the impression that the work is done, that its too late for people to interfere. But that’s not true. Where they have felled trees, people are planting fresh saplings. The land is protected by a protest camp, and over 100 people have been coming and going over the last few days.

He said tree nurseries “from around the country” had donated young trees to be planted on the land, and urged supporters to attend a protest planned outside the ESB headquarters on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin at midday on Tuesday.

An Eirgrid spokesperson today told that the two companies “very much regret that the situation have come to this position”, adding: “The only reason this line is being built is that ESB and Eirgrid have a statutory responsibility to build a safe, reliable, economical power structure across Ireland.”

He rejected suggestions that the lines could be routed underground instead, saying that would make them less reliable and increase costs for electricity consumers. He continued: “Overhead lines are the internationally accepted method of distributing high voltage electricity. About 98.5 per cent of lines worldwide are overhead.”

In a statement issued yesterday, the two companies said:

A feature of the companies’ plans is a major programme of planting of replacement trees, following the construction of the vital electricity line [...]  The electricity line development concerned will be critical to maintaining secure, reliable power in the Midlands.

Read more: “Vast majority” of tree-cutting completed on Teresa Treacy’s land>

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.