'We're not trespassing, that would be ungodly,' say Christian Travellers group parked in Portmarnock field
The part-owner of a field in Portmarnock has insisted he never gave permission to a group of born-again Christian Travellers to take over the land.
The Travellers - from France, Belgium, England and Ireland - say they are in Dublin on a mission to spread the word of the Lord.
A French pastor, from Life and Light Missions, has travelled over for what will be a two-week retreat. They are understood to have agreed to vacate on July 1.
Around 50 caravans arrived at the site on Monday night and the group managed to open the gate into the field.
Born-again Christian Tommy Doran, who says he is an evangelist here, insisted they have an agreement with an owner to use the field.
The land is understood to be divided between four owners.
However, part-owner Michael Halligan, who owns an acre, said they got through his gate and are currently residing on his land.
Speaking to the Herald, Mr Halligan said: "They're trespassing on my area of the land. I can't speak for the others, there's 4.3 acres there and I have one acre.
"There's more responsibility on me because the entrance is on my acre."
Mr Doran denied they were trespassing and said they have an agreement to use the land for a couple of weeks. He denied they forcefully entered the land.
"That would be very ungodly. It wouldn't be right if you broke someone's gate," he said.
Mr Doran said the group preached worldwide and passed on a reading pamphlet. He also referenced John 3:3 when describing the preaching they do.
"Jesus said unless one is born again, they will never see the Kingdom again," he said.
It's understood that gardai are liaising with the group but are not investigating and are happy it is a temporary situation.
However, Fingal County Council said it had been in touch with one of the land's owners and was currently assessing the situation.
"Fingal County Council is aware of the encampment which has been created on privately-owned land at Blackwood Avenue, Portmarnock, over the past 24 hours," a statement from the county council read.
"The land is owned by a group of individuals and Fingal County Council has been in contact with one of the owners to inform them of the processes open to them.
"Fingal County Council's Planning Enforcement Section has also been alerted and the section is currently assessing the situation with a view to commencing enforcement action under the Planning Development Act 2000 (as amended)."
Local Fianna Fail TD Darragh O'Brien told the Herald last night that he had been given assurances the situation would be temporary.
"People were concerned initially because they thought it was permanent," he said.
"They are here on a religious retreat and they will be making sure that the site is well kept during their stay."
Mr O'Brien - who lives nearby - said he will be visiting the group later this week to say hello.
Life and Light Missions have set up a large tent on the land, where they will be preaching over the coming weeks.