Monday 11 December 2017

Brian O'Donnell thrown eleventh-hour lifeline to remain in Gorse Hill

Brian O Donnell leaving Four Courts with two of his children, Blake (centre) and Blaise (left). Photo: Courts Collins
Brian O Donnell leaving Four Courts with two of his children, Blake (centre) and Blaise (left). Photo: Courts Collins

Solicitor Brian O'Donnell and his wife can remain in their palatial hilltop mansion in Killiney until next Thursday.

The three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal has granted a stay allowing the O'Donnells to remain at Gorse Hill for five more days.

He must present his case against a trespass injunction next Thursday at 2pm in the Court of Appeal.

Mr O'Donnell and his wife had appealed a High Court order to vacate Gorse Hill yesterday evening.

The Court of Appeal sat yesterday morning to hear Mr O'Donnell's application for a continuation of the stay.

He was seeking to extend the time he and his wife have to vacate the property, so they could appeal the trespass order obtained by Bank of Ireland and a receiver.

Counsel for Bank of Ireland, and the receiver appointed to Gorse Hill, were also present in Court 22 at the Criminal Courts of Justice.


Cian Ferriter, SC for the bank, told the court Mr O'Donnell and his wife are "not the owners of the property", adding that the bank are "strongly opposed to any stay being granted".

Given the findings of "uncontroverted evidence", the balance of justice is "against any continuation of the stay".

He said the defendants travelled back from the UK "where they live" to take possession of Gorse Hill.

They then invited "third parties" who were "wholly unconnected with the matters in dispute" onto the premises.

"Their permanent home is in England,"he added.

Addressing Jerry Beades of the self-styled New Land League, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said "lets keep some order here", after Mr Beades interrupted Mr Ferriter as he addressed the court.

Brian O'Donnell insisted he and his wife have "a permanent right of residence" at Gorse Hill.

He argued proceedings have been "railroaded through the courts without any regard for due process and fairness".

"Impossible time limits and deadlines" were imposed in a "deliberate attempt to make it almost impossible" to respond to the claims, he added.

After considering Mr O'Donnell's application, President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Sean Ryan said his notice of appeal had to be lodged "by close of business today".

Mr Justice Ryan, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, described the matter as "urgent".

He told Mr O'Donnell that he must present his appeal on Thursday.

Accompanied in court by John Martin and Mr Beades of the New Land League, Mr O'Donnell told Mr Justice Ryan he was seeking a stay which was "reasonable in the circumstances".

Speaking outside court, Mr Beades later told the Herald Mr O'Donnell is "extremely relieved", adding that the family have a "substantial task" ahead of them to prepare for next Thursday's hearing.

In an earlier sitting, Mr Ferriter demanded that the couple "deliver up" the keys, alarm codes, and other "security and access devices" to the receiver, Tom Kavanagh.

He said Mr Kavanagh is "anxious" to seize control of the house "as soon as is reasonably possible".

He is also anxious to ensure that this is conducted in a "calm and dignified manner", he added.

He proposed that the receiver "liaise" with Mr O'Donnell yesterday, to arrange a suitable time for the couple to "vacate the premises".

"Mr Kavanagh is now legally entitled to take possession, and it's a question of arranging logistics ... to facilitate Mr and Mrs O'Donnell," he said.


Mr Ferriter said he was anxious to avoid a situation whereby discussions are played out "in public".

He proposed that talks should take place in the "next couple of minutes, or half an hour".

Mr O'Donnell then rose to his feet, and requested a stay of six months on the order, which was refused.

He said he wanted to clarify with Mr Ferriter whether he was seeking "some sort of barring order from anyone being invited into Gorse Hill".

He then turned to Mr Ferriter and asked: "Does that include relatives and friends who come visit?"

Mr Justice McGovern interjected, saying: "You have no entitlement to reside there - it's not your residence."


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