herald

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Newspaper seller's fears of losing stall despite 'contract'

George Davis (right) and John Breen are worried about being removed from their pitch. Photo: Damien Eagers
George Davis (right) and John Breen are worried about being removed from their pitch. Photo: Damien Eagers

A newspaper vendor, who has sold millions of papers from a four-wheeled buggy over nearly 40 years, said he has had "sleepless nights" after being told to "push off" from his stand outside Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre.

George Davis (62) has been in business at the same spot since before the shopping centre was constructed. His colleague, John Breen (46), has been working at the stall since leaving school aged 13.

Contract

Whether they will continue spreading the news hangs on a court's reading of evidence of a purported contract "agreed" by barristers John Peart, now a senior counsel, and Mary Finlay, now Appeal Court Judge Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan.

Judge Francis Comerford was told in the Circuit Civil Court yesterday that solicitors involved in a late 1970s bid to shift Mr Davis from his George's Street site had been struck out.

Barrister Mark O'Riordan, for Mr Davis, told the judge the written agreement could not be found and had not been made an order of court at the time.

Mr Peart said that, when the shopping centre was being built in the 1970s, a hoarding around the construction site contained "an indentation" from which Mr Davis, of Hadleigh, Ballybride Road, Rathmichael, Dublin, continued to sell his papers to passers-by.

He said the then-Ms Finlay had drawn up an agreement, which they both signed, stating that Davis could sell his newspapers from the entrance.

"It clearly gave Mr Davis a right to sell his newspapers at the front entrance only of the shopping centre for his lifetime," Mr Peart said.

Coltard, which acquired the centre in 1998, plans a €10m redevelopment.

Raymond Delahunt, counsel for Coltard, told the court that at no time since 1998 had Mr Davis paid rent to Coltard and his use of the shopping centre entrance to sell papers had never been sanctioned.

Worried

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Davis admitted he was very worried about losing the stall and the effect that could have on Mr Breen.

"It's his livelihood - that's all he has, since he was a child. He's one of the best-known lads in the town, he's loved," Mr Davis said.

Mr O'Riordan said Mr Davis had sold newspapers at the site for more than 38 years and holds an irrevocable licence, which he asked the court to affirm.

Mr Davis also seeks an injunction restraining Coltard from interfering with his news vending pitch.

Judge Comerford has reserved judgment.

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