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Achill-henge developer jailed for contempt of court

achill structure

Achill-henge developer jailed

‘Anglo Avenger’ to return to High Court tomorrow

Edwin McGreal

Joe McNamara, the man behind the controversial Achill-henge development, will be released from prison today (Tuesday) after being jailed on Friday last for contempt of court.
He will appear before the High Court again tomorrow (Wednesday). Judge Roderick Murphy said he will be invited to ‘purge his contempt and to deal with the matter of what appears to be an unlawful development’.
McNamara, also known as ‘The Anglo Avenger’ after a series of high-profile protests against Anglo Irish Bank, built a Stonehenge-esque structure on a hilltop in Pollagh, Achill last weekend. He had no planning permission for the development and Judge Murphy ruled that he was in contempt of court for ignoring two injunctions to cease work on the site.
Mayo County Council took proceedings against McNamara, with addresses at Achill Island and Salthill, stating that he breached court orders by continuing working on the structure, which the council say is an unauthorised and unlawful development.

joe mcnamara
Joe McNamara

At the court sitting earlier last week Iain Douglas, Senior Planner with Mayo County Council, told the court that the works were being carried out on an area of undeveloped mountain bogland of high scenic value and located adjacent to a large archaeological site which is protected.
Afterwards, Pat Butler, SC, for Mayo County Council said the council were prepared to ask the court not to jail McNamara if the developer gave an undertaking to remove the structure within a given time period. McNamara’s solicitor, Peter Keane, said his client was not prepared to give such an undertaking.
Speaking after the court on Friday last a Mayo County Council spokesperson said: ‘it is being dealt with by the courts and is a matter for the courts’.
Reportedly over six months in planning, the structure towers four and a half metres from its base, is 30 metres in diameter and has a circumference of close to 100 metres. Speculation is still rife about the purpose of the project.
There is a widespread belief that the structure will take some form of political protest while one of McNamara’s supporters told a Sunday newspaper that Achill-henge is intended to be a ‘tomb for the Celtic Tiger’. Benny Meehan said that McNamara has built the structure as a ‘place of reflection’.
“Some people have portrayed Joe as some kind of lunatic. He is not. He is a quiet and reflective man and he is just trying to raise awareness and get people thinking about what has happened to this country,” said Mr Meehan.
Sources close to McNamara say the project only cost a five figure sum due to the fact that many people worked for free on it and because of McNamara’s expertise in the area. It has been reported as costing as little as €20,000. They claim that such a project would cost over €1m if it was built by government or a local authority.
It is believed that McNamara is going to seek retention planning permission for the development from Mayo County Council.

Elsewhere on mayonews.ie
Achill-henge hailed as ‘genius’
Achill-henge builder jailed
Anglo Avenger’s Achill antics