The battle for Gorse Hill comes to an end on a day of complete farce
THERE were farcical scenes in Killiney yesterday as the battle for Gorse Hill ended in both a stand-off and climb-down.
The self-styled New Land League declared that the house was still owned by the O'Donnell family before letting the receivers in. Under the instructions of the Supreme Court, the family of solicitor Brian O'Donnell packed up and left before noon yesterday.
Mr O'Donnell duly made his way to the Bank of Ireland AGM and created a scene by tossing the keys to his home - with a key chain reading 'The bloody keys' - to Bank of Ireland's chief executive Mr Rchie Boucher.
It was BoI which had engaged O'Donnell in a legal duel to finally gain possession of the house as part of its quest to retrieve €70m in unpaid loans from the businessman.
Mr O'Donnell had looked for more time from the court to move his belongings, but the time was up and on Tuesday the family was ordered out.
Mr O'Donnell had argued that his appeal centred on issues of public importance which should be determined in the public interest.
The bank argued that the case raised no novel legal issues or principles and leave to appeal should be refused.
After the O'Donnells left, some members of the New Land League, including its figurehead Jerry Beades, waited for the receivers to arrive.
Mr Beades pinned a notice to the gates declaring that the house was owned by Mr O'Donnell's four adult children under the guise of a company called Vico Ltd.
The notice was addressed to Bank of Ireland and receiver Tom Kavanagh, and said that Vico did "not consent to your clients accessing the property and taking possession".
"The company objects to the appointment of Tom Kavanagh as receiver on the basis that the legal documentation he relies on is void and unenforceable," it added.
The notice concluded that if the bank or receiver accessed the property, it would be deemed to be trespassing.
Mr Beades publicly announced that the locks on the property had been changed by Vico but that nobody would be preventing the receiver from going into the house.
However, when Mr Kavanagh arrived and went to give Jerry Beades a copy of the court order, Mr Beades didn't appear too eager to accept it.
He said that the order related to the case involving Brian O'Donnell but not Vico Ltd, who were now claiming ownership of the massive house.
"That's for Brian O'Donnell, that's not for Vico," said Mr Beades.
"Are you going to comply with the court order?" asked Mr Kavanagh, still holding the ream of paperwork out in front of him for Mr Beades to take.
"I am asking have you replied to the Vico letter this morning," Mr Beades asked impatiently.
"Yes we have," said Mr Kavanagh.
"Can I see it?" asked Mr Beades.
"No, we didn't bring it," said one of the men with Mr Kavanagh.
"The order says all parties on the notice of it have to yield up possession. You're not going to interfere with our taking possession?" Mr Kavanagh asked.
He tried to place the documents under Mr Beades's arm but the Land League man was having none of it.
"Hold on, hold on. I never said I wasn't giving you possession, I'm asking you...," said Beades.
But Mr Kavanagh's patience had run out in less than the minute since he had arrived.
He returned to the people carrier declaring he would be back in half-an-hour.
Mr Beades went around to the other side of the vehicle and the conversation started again.
Mr Beades then agreed to open the gates.
He explained his actions to the Herald saying that he was never going to stop the receiver gaining access to the property but had to ask if he had read documents in relation to the Vico Ltd claim to the house so he could note the answer for future elements of the campaign to keep the house in O'Donnell control.
"I didn't give any keys to the receiver, I just used the fob to open the gate and then I handed the fob to the gardai. We were fully cooperative at all times," said Mr Beades.
After five years of letters, meetings, courts, appeal courts, High courts and Supreme Courts the receivers watched as the last of the O'Donnells' worldly possessions were driven out of Gorse Hill.
The fight was over. For now.
"The bank cannot sell the house because it is owned by Vico Ltd and the bank never served papers on Vico," said Mr Beades.
"This matter is still before the courts and will be for some time, and Bank of Ireland will find that their actions against Brian O'Donnell were a wrong course of action if it is ownership of the house they want."
Later on yesterday evening Mr Beades issued a statement which read: "Vico Ltd will issue proceedings against Mr Kavanagh in the coming days for his trespass on the premises it owns."