McFeely declared bankrupt in Ireland
A HIGH Court judge has declared Priory Hall developer Thomas McFeely bankrupt in Ireland.
Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne made the declaration after rejecting arguments by Mr McFeely his centre of main business interest was the UK.
Mr McFeely was previously adjudicated bankrupt in England and Wales by a London court, but this decision was rescinded following a challenge by a woman who brought bankruptcy proceedings here against Mr McFeely over failure of one of his companies to pay her a court award of €100,000. Theresa McGuinness, from Rush, Co Dublin, had asked the High Court to declare his main centre of interests as the Republic.
Mr McFeely (64) opposed her application, arguing he would be 76 by the time he could get back into business if he was declared bankrupt here, when it would be just a year if he was adjudicated bankrupt in the UK.
Yesterday, Ms Justice Dunne said, on the basis of information provided by Ms McGuinness and provided by Mr McFeely himself, she was satisfied his residence and main centre of business interest was in this country.
“I am not impressed by the level of information provided by Mr McFeely,” she said.
“Quite simply, it is difficult to accept the statements of Mr McFeely that his centre of main interest is the UK given in information he provided here and as part of his statement of affairs for the bankruptcy proceedings in the UK.” The judge then adjudicated Mr McFeely bankrupt at the request of Ms McGuinness after rejecting his lawyer’s suggestion there should be a hearing on that matter.
When told Mr McFeely was not in court, the judge said he should be. She ordered he attend in person on the court’s official assignee in bankruptcy, Chris Lehane, and provide an up-to-date address. As a result of yesterday’s decision, the developer’s assets and debts are now under the control of Mr Lehane.
The judge also rejected an application to put a stay on her order pending an appeal. A stay was not appropriate given the nature of bankruptcy legislation, she said.
In her ruling, Ms Justice Dunne said she took into account a number of relevant issues raised by Ms McGuinness, including that Mr McFeely’s business address is in Holles Street, Dublin, and that he has given his home address as Ailesbury Road, Dublin, for a number of years. That residence was where he lived with his wife and two youngest children.
She also noted Ms McGuinness had described the lease on his London address as a sham.
Mr McFeely was also involved in significant legal proceedings here, most notably in relation to the Priory Hall development that his Coalport company built in Dublin and which had to be evacuated by court order because of fire safety matters, the judge said.
She also noted he has substantial debts here, including €200 million in the National Asset Management Agency. He had said his tax affairs were dealt with in Ireland.
In information provided to the court in support of Mr McFeely’s objection to Ireland being declared his centre of interest, he had said he held a British passport but had not said whether he also had an Irish one, the judge said. He had said he lived in Northern Ireland until the age of 41. In 2008, he moved to England to carry out development works, she said.
The judge said the lack of information provided by Mr McFeely in his UK proceedings had led to that bankruptcy being rescinded. There was also affidavit evidence given by his wife Nina that his residence was Ireland, she added.