IN­TER­VIEW

Thomas Reid talks ex­clu­sively to and about his six-year le­gal bat­tle to save the fam­ily farm from an IDA com­pul­sory pur­chase or­der

Irish Independent - Farming - - ANALYSIS -

THOMAS Reid hit the head­lines when he took on the might of the IDA over its at­tempt to com­pul­sory pur­chase his 72acre farm in Kil­dare just yards from tech gi­ant In­tel’s mas­sive Leixlip cam­pus.

It took him six years of dogged de­ter­mi­na­tion and, some might say, blind re­solve to win his case. A multi-mil­lion euro of­fer was never a runner for Thomas — his fight was never about the money.

Even an ini­tial loss in the High Court didn’t de­ter him. When his le­gal team said he should spend a few days think­ing about things af­ter los­ing on all counts in the High Court, Thomas in­structed the team to ap­peal to the high­est court in the land straight away.

If he’d lost, the CPO would no doubt have made him a very wealthy man. He would have been well able to cover his le­gal fees, but by win­ning he kept his farm and the op­pos­ing side took care of his fees. Af­ter win­ning his ap­peal, the farmer who trav­elled in by bus to the court each day to ob­serve pro­ceed­ings stood on the steps of the Supreme Court and said it was a “good day for Ire­land” that his ap­peal had been up­held.

Thomas cy­cled to meet us and was armed with a bag of le­gal doc­u­ments from his case.

En­gage

Not that he needs them. He knows the date of every let­ter he re­ceived from the IDA invit­ing him to en­gage with them and can di­rect us to the ex­act pages in the pile of doc­u­ments that are ad­dressed to his mother.

Along with his four broth­ers, Thomas grew up on the farm, which has been in the fam­ily since his grand­par­ents bought it in the early 1900s. It was buried well into the coun­try­side out­side Dublin at that time, but to­day it is in a prime lo­ca­tion on the out­skirts of Leixlip.

The home­stead, built in the 1700s, now stands between the op­u­lent Car­ton House es­tate and the tech gi­ant In­tel’s sprawl­ing Leixlip site, where over 4,000 peo­ple are em­ployed.

In 2017, In­tel gen­er­ated a record $22 bil­lion cash from its op­er­a­tions and re­turned nearly $9bn to its share­hold­ers.

On its Ir­ish web­site, it boasts that it has in­vested over $13.9bn since turn­ing a 360-acre for­mer stud farm into one of the most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing lo­ca­tions in all of Europe.

A small coun­try road de­mar­cates two sep­a­rate worlds — on one side a semi-con­duc­tor wafer fab­ri­ca­tion fa­cil­ity which pro­duces lat­est-gen­er­a­tion sil­i­con mi­cro­pro­ces­sors; on the other, the hum­ble Reid fam­ily farm.

And, ac­cord­ing to Thomas, his own, soli­tary job on his farm is as im­por­tant to him.

“It’s the prin­ci­ple of the mat­ter,” he ex­plains. “Some guy in the 1980s tried to buy it from my fa­ther and it wasn’t for sale then ei­ther.”

Reid’s ini­tial head-in-the­sand ap­proach in­cluded homemade signs out­side his prop­erty, for all who passed on the busy road to see. His farm was not for sale.

A neigh­bour ad­vised him of a good so­lic­i­tor, he says, and while he doesn’t buy the news­pa­pers of­ten — his friends and neighbours bring them to him — he’s in­cred­i­bly well read.

And he’s as com­fort­able talk­ing about the fod­der cri­sis and his own cat­tle on the farm as he is about his le­gal wran­gling with the IDA.

Thomas says his land is not a site but a farm. How­ever, he

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