Farce and drama as Brian O’Donnell complains of Gorse Hill ‘circus’
BANKRUPT Solicitor Brian O’Donnell has complained of the “absolute circus” at his former Killiney mansion where he and wife Mary Patricia have been staging a sit-in for the last four days.
There has been drama and farce at Gorse Hill since the pair – who owe €71.5m to Bank of Ireland – barricaded themselves into the lavish property on Monday with the support of the self-styled New Land League in a bid to prevent the house being repossessed.
On Tuesday, the court rejected an application by the O’Donnell children for an injunction to stop the repossession of the house on Vico Road.
Following that, representatives of receivers pinned a notice of trespass and to vacate on the gates of the property.
The legal eagle and his wife had until 4pm yesterday to vacate the palatial house.
Mr O’Donnell was seen publicly for the first time this morning when he drove through the gates just after 8am in a navy 141-C registered Ford Focus. He made no comment as he left.
Mr O’Donnell arrived at the Four Courts accompanied by his son Blake just after 10am.
He claimed in the High Court that there has been more than 65 journalists and satellite trucks outside the house.
“It’s an absolute circus,” he said. He claimed that the bank is trying to make an example of his family.
“All I want is that we get our constitutional rights, fair process,” he said.
Earlier, Mr O’Donnell made an application that the judge, Justice Brian McGovern, might excuse himself from the case because his wife was involved with the Ryan Partnership, which had taken legal proceedings against the receiver Kavanagh Fennell.
Judge McGovern rejected this, saying he had not been personally involved in the matter and that it had been settled by the courts.
Mr O’Donnell claimed that he had not been given adequate time to prepare for the trespass proceedings, saying that this was a “complete new set of proceedings”.
He said he and his wife were not the owners of Gorse Hill and said that it seemed to have been forgotten that everyone in the family was a separate legal entity with their own rights.
There were farcical scenes at Gorse Hill yesterday.
The O’Donnells refused to speak to media all day, despite an approach by broadcaster Vincent Browne when he brushed past members of the New Land League to walk up the driveway.
The group spokesman Jerry Beades arrived just after midday to consult with the O’Donnells.
TV3 broadcaster Mr Browne seized the opportunity to step across the open gate, outlining his intention of going up to the house to interview Mr O’Donnell.
As New Land League members addressed reporters outside, alleging there was a “sinister side” to the “pursuit” of the O’Donnells, Browne walked past them and through the open gate.
The members of the New Land League accused Mr Browne of trespassing, but the TV3 frontman replied: “This is bank property.”
Browne then called on his fellow journalists to join him before calling them “wimps”.
Members of the media followed Mr Browne down the driveway and proceeded to the front door where he knocked.
Photographers and cameramen from the media recorded the palatial surroundings of the home with extensive views over Killiney Bay and a private swimming pool. Some members of the public took the opportunity to wander into the driveway.
At one point yesterday, the New Land League organisation announced that it would be withdrawing from the occupation at the request of the couple, only to return later to their position at the house.
Referring to the O’Donnells, Mr Beades said: “They’re pretty battered by the whole process.”
“They’re no different than any hundreds of other families around the country facing the same situation,” he argued.
Asked why the New Land League had involved itself in this case, Mr Beades said the reason for the group’s “digging in at Gorse Hill” was because it had put “at centre stage” the issue of home repossessions in Ireland. The group said they have lodged a constitutional challenge aimed at preventing the repossession of homes around the country.
Later, Browne and Beades faced off on TV3 with the broadcaster telling the New Land League member to “shut up” on numerous occasions and Beades claiming that Gorse Hill is a “bog standard house”.
At the height of their property empire, the O’Donnells had interests in a number of London properties, as well as Stockholm and Washington DC.
However, the financial downturn seriously hit the value of these investments.