herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

MOD on Monday: O'Donnell needs to wake up, smell the coffee and hand over mansion keys

Brian and Mary O'Donnell
Brian and Mary O'Donnell
Victoria Smurfit
Brendan Courtney

To most of us, the Celtic Tiger is dead and buried. But there's a corner of Ireland that will forever be living the dream, unfettered by the reality check that has befallen the rest of the country and oblivious to the national disgust towards the greed and recklessness that drove this country to the brink of collapse.

Strangely enough, it's possible to map this location exactly. It's called Gorse Hill, an 8,000sq ft mansion on Killiney's Vico Road. For the umpteenth time in recent years, the O'Donnell family that lives there are back in the news - and back in the courts.

The case of former solicitor Brian O'Donnell, his wife Mary, and their four grandiosely-named children, Bruce, Blake, Blaise and Alexandra, will be familiar to many, such has been the multitude of court appearances.

All have resulted from the collapse of Brian's property empire which came tumbling down with the crash.

Owing Bank of Ireland €71m in 2011, the bank attempted to have him declared bankrupt in this country, but O'Donnell fought this for four years, claiming that his principle centre of business was the UK, as being bankrupted in the UK would have been far less inconvenient than over here.

Brian lost his appeal in the High Court and finally last week in the Supreme Court which, one would have thought, would bring an end to the matter. But not for the O'Donnells.

The latest case centres on who exactly owns Gorse Hill - the mansion that Brian O'Donnell bought in 1997 and lived in until 2011.

According to the family, the home is actually owned by the four children, held by a trust set up by their parents, and the bank's attempt to take possession of it in order to pay off some of the €71m Brian owes them is therefore unlawful.

As with the father's bankruptcy hearings, this particular issue has taken up much of the Irish courts' time in recent years, and seemed to have ended a month ago when the Supreme Court decided that the children were not entitled to claim ownership of the house, and must vacate it by today.

Undaunted, however, the four children are now launching another challenge to stop them having to vacate and have named over a dozen defendants in their latest court appeal.

This time, one of their attempted claims is that Bank of Ireland Private Banking is not actually licensed to operate as a bank.

At a time when genuine homelessness is in the news, the privileged, pampered and deluded O'Donnell children are refusing to face reality and give up the property.

Last month, given two weeks to clear out, one of their defences for getting the deadline extended was that it was unreasonable to expect them to vacate so quickly, given its size.

It was "a large property containing many things difficult to move". Which essentially states that their house is so palatial, and their possessions so numerous, they can't just simply get movers in and decamp, the way ordinary people would do.

Doesn't your heart just bleed for them?

 

Victoria just needs to phone a friend

In announcing her separation from husband Doug Baxter a week ago, Victoria Smurfit stated that "our children are our highest priority, so to protect them, we will not be discussing it further".

In fairness to Victoria, she held out for a full five days.

"You're not going to find me down on the Santa Monica boardwalk," she joked in an interview over the weekend, "in a pair of hot pants and rollerblades, looking for a 70-year-old with a bad cough! That, I will not be doing."

As if this slightly lurid vision wasn't enough, Vicky herself teased that she might well be tempted to expand further on the matter, provided you're a concerned friend.

"I probably won't ever talk about this [the divorce] ever again," she says.

"Unless you're my friend and you've got a bottle of Chablis, I'm not going to talk about this again! It's very important for me and the kids that this doesn't turn into a soap ­opera." Before babbling on about her new single life.

All this must leave the bean-counters at RTE feeling green with envy.

They'd have loved to have got the scoop on Victoria's break-up.

But even worse, given that the station has, in the past, spent thousands of euro flying lesser celebrities into town in order to get them to appear, that bottle of Chablis must sound very reasonable indeed.

 

So, is Brendan dressed to kill?

*Brendan Courtney has announced that he's unable to present this year's Peter Mark VIP Style Awards and he has had to relinquish that job to a new host.   

 Brendan Courtney is always immaculately turned out, so it's fightin' talk to hear him threaten my life should he fail to make the shortlist for this year's Best Dressed Man Award.

"I'm not available [to present] this time, I'm away - I better be on the Best Dressed list though, or there'll be murder!" he said. The nominees are announced tomorrow and all I can say at this stage is it looks like I'm in danger of having my hair tousled and my wardrobe insulted by Brendan. I assume that's what he means by "murder"?

*While the threats from Courtney won't drive me to seek personal protection, it was interesting to read that this was the measure proposed by Andy Quirke, better known as both Damo and Ivor from RTE's hit show. Describing how the attention he gets from fans borders on the unwanted, Andy explained: "I went out drinking one night and got out of a taxi outside Copper Face Jacks. I had people practically lifting me out. Getting a bodyguard sounds a bit crazy, but I was getting so frustrated." In this anecdote, the legend that is Andy Quirke is revealed. Most of us simply need fifteen pints to get into Coppers. Andy needs a minder...

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