The Grain Blockade Convictions

Outcome of investigation

After an investigation that began in September 2002, the Competition Authority (Authority) secured criminal convictions against 6 farmers in March 2003. The investigation arose following a grain blockade and a related meeting in August 2002. Upon appeal in October 2004, 3 of the 6 convictions were upheld.

Outline of Case

In 2002, the Authority commenced an investigation following a protest by farmers who attempted to block a 3,100 tonne shipment of wheat from being imported on the 31 August 2002.

The farmers agreed with the grain trader to store the wheat away to be released on the Irish market only at a time that would impact least on Irish farmers' own grain prices. The Irish Farmers’ Association decided the imported wheat that was put in storage, should only be purchased on the Irish market at a time that reduced the risk to Irish farmers’ grain prices. This meant that Irish consumers would pay more for wheat products than was necessary.

The Authority secured criminal convictions against 6 farmers in March 2003. Upon appeal in October 2004, 3 of the 6 convictions were upheld.

Convictions

Defendant

Status

Date Sentenced

Result

Fintan Conway

Finding of guilt upheld on appeal taken at Dundalk Circuit Court (October 2004)

October 2004

Probation Act applied

Colm McDonnell

Finding of guilt upheld on appeal taken at Dundalk Circuit Court (October 2004)

October 2004

Probation Act applied

George O’Brien

Finding of guilt upheld on appeal taken at Dundalk Circuit Court (October 2004)

October 2004

Probation Act applied

Relevant provision

Section 4 of the Competition Act 2002.

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