Brian O’Donnell drops Gorse Hill keys in front of BoI chief

Former solicitor says family has been in court over house, and lost, a total of 82 times

Brian O'Donnell arrives at the Bank of Ireland AGM to hand back the keys to the Gorse Hill property and confirms his intention to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Video: Bryan O'Brien


Solicitor Brian O’Donnell is planning to take his legal fight over Gorse Hill in Killiney to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Mr O’Donnell confirmed his intention to seek yet another legal avenue against Bank of Ireland’s repossession of the property at the bank’s general court, the annual shareholders’ meeting, which took place at University College Dublin (UCD) on Wednesday.

He told reporters: “We’ve been in court 82 times and we have lost 82 times, statistically impossible. We’re appealing to the ECHR.”

At the start of the meeting, Mr O’Donnell walked up to chief executive Ritchie Boucher and dumped the keys to the disputed property on the table.

“Here are the keys to Gorse Hill you spent €9 million getting,” he said to Mr Boucher.

Mr O’Donnell had been attending the bank’s agm only hours after leaving the family home, perhaps for the last time, on foot of a noon court imposed deadline to vacate the property. A bank-appointed receiver took possession of the property shortly before 1pm on Wednesday.

It ended months of legal wrangling, costing millions.

The receiver wishes to sell the house, valued at €7 million, to meet part of a €71.5 million debt owed by the O’Donnells for various unpaid property loans.

At the bank’s agm in UCD’s O’Reilly Hall, Mr O’Donnell, accompanied by his son Blake, accused the bank’s senior executives of making him and his wife bankrupt.

He also criticised Mr Boucher directly, accusing him of presiding over massive losses at the bank since taking charge, and claimed the bank’s private arm had no licence to lend and was operating in contravention of the law.

Earlier his son Blake claimed during the meeting that the lender’s private banking arm had been investigated for fraud in 2013 and was being “secretly” wound down.

Blake O’Donnell said he had heard the bank was “quietly winding down” its private banking arm without telling customers, and was already in the process of moving these customers into the main bank.

“You’ve not told them this, you’re hiding it from them, and I want to know why,” he asked the directors.

The bank’s governor Archie Kane responded to Blake O’Donnell by saying that all of these issues had been discussed many times and brought through the courts and “I don’t propose to discuss them again.”

“As far as I’m concerned we operate all parts of the organisation legitimately, under licence, fully licensed by the Central Bank of Ireland and under the appropriate laws,” he said.

In his opening address, Mr Kane spoke of the bank’s approach to supporting mortgage customers in financial difficulty, insisting “we strive to help them.”

At this, Mr O’Donnell senior was seen to noticeably shake his head.

After the meeting, the solicitor told reporters the board of the bank failed to answer adequately any of the questions posed by shareholders. “Every time with Bank of Ireland, no answers.”

“I speak today, as a shareholder, the most recent eviction person with my wife, and thanks to Mr Boucher we have also had our family smeared for six years by the Bank of Ireland.”

He also claimed to have repaid €700 million to banks worldwide, and suggested “the only bank we have this sort of problem with is Bank of Ireland, who do no deals and give no answers”.

Mr O’Donnell said he would be staying with friends and relatives in the wake of his eviction from Gorse Hill.