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The Hills Are Alive…

It was a decision that left many people in Wicklow – and around the country – more than a little disappointed.

The award of €40,000 to hillwalker Teresa Wall in April of last year for a fall on the Wicklow Way opened up the possibility of these hugely popular walks being seriously undermined.

This morning, Mr Justice Michael White overturned the damages awarded in that unprecedented case.

Ms Wall had claimed that she tripped and fell after her foot had snagged on a hole in rotted railway sleepers that had been used in the construction of a boardwalk just in the shadow of the JB Malone memorial on the Sally Gap to Djouce wood trail near Roundwood.

In the original court case, the National Parks and Wildlife Service were found guilty of negligence and ordered to pay Ms Wall damages of €40,000.

Ruling on the NPWS’s appeal this morning, Mr Justice White said that Mrs Wall was “a genuine person” who had suffered injuries that had affected her “active lifestyle”. Nonetheless, he felt that the “mechanism of her fall” had a “high degree of negligence on Mrs Wall’s part in that she was not looking at the surface of the boardwalk when she fell”.

Adjourning the matter for two weeks, the judge asked the lawyers for the NWPS to consider Mrs Wall’s situation before making any application for legal costs.

The fear of the damages being upheld would be the retreat of private land owners from being part of the Wicklow Way walks by withdrawing their properties.

For the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys, and the Minister of State for Regional Development, Michael Ring, today’s decision was very much welcomed, stating that they would now take time to consider the findings of the court case, “and its future implications for our National Parks and their recreational remit”.

Suffice to say, mind how you go out there on the Wicklow Way. And appreciate every inch of it.

Andrew Doyle TD lets rip on that original award of damages back in April 2016 here.

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