A Moville solicitor has confirmed that after many years the hotly disputed issue of ‘commonage’ land at Drumaweir Hill has now been resolved
Geraldine Conaghan yesterday confirmed to the Journal that on May 15th in Buncrana Circuit Court the commonage was partitioned into separate ownership by Judge John O’Hagan.
This is thought to be one of the first cases of its type in the country.
Drumaweer Hill in Greencastle contains almost 45 hectares so each of the 14 common owners got a substantial plot of about 8 acres into their sole ownership.
Speaking yesterday Ms Conaghan admitted it had it had been ‘a long hard road’ to get agreement.
She said: “The idea to sub-divide the Hill was the brainchild of the late Liam McCormick (of Greencastle Sea foods) who mooted the idea more than 20 years ago when the Land Commission was still in existence. But land being land, the physical sub-division into various equivalent plots was never going to be easy.
“A committee of local farmers joined with Liam to bring the project to fruition. However, by the time the plots were mapped the Land Commission had been abolished and there was no mechanism left to subdivide, apart from all 14 owners entering into a legal Voluntary Deed of Partition. For this to happen, all owners had to have their title affairs in order and their commonage rights recorded on their title deeds”.
In 2009 Liam McCormick instructed local solicitor Ms Conaghan in this regard.
“Difficulties then arose as various landowners had died. Also, plots previously agreed were now being disputed. Owners, who had agreed their plots and paid their share of costs, despaired at the lack of progress and became disheartened. As the maps had to be re-drawn, the expenses increased.”
It wasn’t until the New Land Act became law in 2010, Ms Conaghan said she saw a new way to resolve the matter.
She explained: “Local Barrister Donal McGuinness Bl. accepted the challenge of drafting proceedings to seek Partition under section 31 of the 2009 Act, despite its novelty. The section had never been before invoked to divide commonage, While Court litigation necessitated further costs, in the end, it was the only way.
“Last summer, agreement was finally reached with the few remaining landowners who had reservations, so the matter could proceed by Consent before the Court.”
With Commonage issues back in the news due to worries of financial corrections being imposed by EU Commission for under-use of land, it is believed this decision will be welcome.ment to benefit landowners.