A new land war may erupt shortly in Craigavon. And Lower Seagoe could be the flashpoint of the trouble.
The spark which may flare up into a fiery battle was struck when a bulldozer and a large earth moving machine moved onto Cyril McLoughlin’s lands at Lower Seagoe on Wednesday morning.
The land was vested three and a half years ago and compensation negotiations have long since broken down.
Mr McLoughlin refused to give up his lands until settlement is reached. And with £11,000 difference between his valuer’s price and the offer made by the Ministry of Development, there is little hope of a break in the deadlock.
Meantime, however, Mr McLo-ughlin says he should retrain possession.
But there was no resistance when the bulldozer and earth moving machine moved into Mr McLoughlin’s land alongside the Belfast-Portadown railway line near the new Seagoe fly-over bridge.
Mr D T Allen, chairman of Seagoe Ulster Farmers Union, watched the operation and warned that a tougher one would be taken in future.
While his union did not desire to hold up progress, the rights of the farmers must be protected, he said.
He will be consulting with UFU headquarters to see what their future policy will be in similar cases.
Mr McLoughlin is annoyed at the Ministry taking over the strip of land to re-align the railway line and he was refused to move his cattle out of the field.
“I have no other place to put them,” he told the bailiff, Mr Ernest Herron, who went along to take possession of the small piece of land.
He says that he has been offered a “ridiculously low” price for his entire farm and that a Ministry official has refused to give a breakdown , in writing, of the figure and pin point which 3½ acres is considered as building ground.
“The Ministry won’t refer the dispute to the Lands’ Tribunal,” said Mr McLoughlin. “It is disgraceful that they won’t use their own machinery to clear the whole matter up.”
Other farmers who have not yet received any compensation are keeping a close eye on developments at Lower Seagoe.
“These people are not going to be bulldozed into the ground. They will not tolerate an abuse of their rights,” said Mr Allen.