Land League ruffles feathers at Knight Frank

Estate agent initiates court action against leading members of grassroots movement

Developer and former Fianna Fáil official Jerry Beades. Photograph: Eric Luke

Developer and former Fianna Fáil official Jerry Beades. Photograph: Eric Luke

Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 01:05

The question of how to deal with the new Land League, a vocal grassroots movement against bank repossessions of homes and farms that has occupied the offices of several estate agents recently, is proving something of a quandary for the industry. There appears to be two schools of thought.

Do you take the Gandhi option like Allsops, and try to mollify it by agreeing not sell repossessed family properties? Or go to war, as the local office of the global property company Knight Frank has done, and initiate court action against its leading members to injunct them from barging into your premises?

HT Meagher Reilly, which trades as Knight Frank, this week filed an injunction application against Jerry Beades, a developer and former Fianna Fáil official who owes more than €20 million to various banks, and Margaret Hanrahan, a Tipperary widow whose property was repossessed by ACC in 2011.

On the morning of June 19th, the Land League managed to prevent a property auction by Ganly Walters at Bewley’s hotel in Newland’s Cross, after 50 of its members disrupted it until gardaí arrived.

“Lots of the lads were up from the country for the day, so once Ganly Walters was taken care of, they wanted somewhere else to protest,” said one source. They settled on the Dublin offices of Knight Frank, where a group apparently refused to move until they met one of the company’s directors, well-known estate agent James Meagher.

Meagher declined to negotiate with them, according to sources. The Independent TD Mattie McGrath, a pal of Beades, later showed up to talk to Meagher and gardaí were also called. The protesters eventually left, but promised to return.

The company’s injunction application names only Beades and Hanrahan, not the Land League group, and is due before the courts next Tuesday.

Several members of the Land League are enthusiastic lay litigants. There’ll be wigs on the green for this one, no doubt.

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