Mother-of-five believes she trespassed on property of ‘cult’

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A WEST Cork autism campaigner and mum-of-five with no previous convictions has received a 60-day suspended jail sentence for trespassing at a property belonging to a group who she believes to be a ‘cult acting outside the bounds of legality.’

Fiona O’Leary (51) of Knockduff, Dunmanway pleaded guilty at Bandon District Court last week to trespassing at The Priory, Maultatanvally, Reenascreena, Rosscarbery on August 10th 2020. The property is owned by SSPX Resistance, a conservative organisation, and one of its founders is a convicted holocaust denier.

Insp Debra Marsh told the court that at 5.20pm on that date the defendant, including some of her children entered the property, despite the owner, Giacomo Ballini, requesting them to leave. Insp Marsh described Ballini as a priest.

‘Ms O’Leary proceeded to video a bedroom and an office and uploaded the footage to the internet and said she was a member of the press. He requested her to leave on a number of occasions. She was there for about 20 minutes before the gardaí arrived,’ said Insp Marsh.

Insp Marsh said that Ballini ‘was in fear’ of her at the time. In his statement, which was read out in court, Fr Ballini said he rang a ‘friend, a policeman’ after he saw Ms O’Leary and a child start to walk around his property uninvited, despite a request to leave.

In his statement, Ballini said that Ms O’Leary claimed to be a member of the press and he told her to leave, but she continued to record on her phone and insisted she had rights to be there. She told him she was from the ‘Covid Police’ and she criticised those present for not wearing face masks. Ballini said he continued to ask her to leave but she insisted she had a right to be there.

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