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