Marie Farrell says family suffered loss after selling home for over €500k

Witness says family were forced to sell after gardaí began harassing her children

Marie Farrell at the Four Courts after giving evidence in a High Court action taken by Ian Bailey. Photograph: Courts Collins.

Marie Farrell at the Four Courts after giving evidence in a High Court action taken by Ian Bailey. Photograph: Courts Collins.

 

Witness Marie Farrell has denied it was a deception to suggest she and her husband made a huge loss on their house in Schull which they sold for over €500,000.

Ms Farrell said the family sold the house due to what she said was harassment of her children by local gardaí.

She agreed with counsel for the state, Paul O’ Higgins SC, during cross-examination that she and her husband, Chris, had bought the serviced site at Ardmanagh in Schull from Cork County Council for €1,000 because they were on the council’s waiting list for housing.

She told Mr O’Higgins they sold the house for “€515,000 or €525,000”. They never wanted to leave Schull but were forced to do so when gardaí began harassing their children over her refusal to toe the garda line in relation to the murder inquiry, she said.

“Chris did all the building - we had some money and at that stage I was running the shop in the caravan park in Barleycove -that’s how we financed it- we didn’t get a mortgage - we made a huge loss on the house ,” Ms Farrell told the Ian Bailey action for damages in the High Court.

Ms Farrell said they had to pay Cork County Council some €120,000 to €130,000 to allow them break the planning permission regulations to sell the property. She also said they never intended selling the house but were forced to do so because of the actions of the local gardaí.

However, Mr O’Higgins said that was “a complete deception” as the payment to the council was part of an agreement whereby they got the site at a reduced rate of €1,000. He said they were obliged to live in the house for a certain time period in a scheme designed to stop property speculation.

Mr O’Higgins said the scheme involved “a clawback” clause by the council if a family moved out of the house before the end of that designated term and the €137,000 they were obliged to pay Cork County Council was the clawback sum in the contract.

Ms Farrell agreed with Mr O’Higgins that they were able to “clear a sum to the tune of €350,000” on the sale of the house after the clawback amount and outstanding rent arrears were deducted. However, she insisted she and her husband has suffered a loss by being forced to sell the house.

“We made a huge loss on the house - we see the money that we had to hand over to Cork County Council, over €100.000, as a loss ... if we were still able to live there, we would have never had to hand over that money,” said Ms Farrell.

Ms Farrell said they received the council site for a reduced price because they were on the council waiting list. She added that Det Jim Fitzgerald contacted the late Senator Peter Callanan who in turn made representations on their behalf to West Cork Manager John Deasy to get the site for €1,000.

She said Det Garda Fitzgerald had introduced herself and her husband to Senator Callanan in the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon. Det Garda Fitzgerald told them Senator Callanan owed him a favour and would help sort out their planning permission, she said.

Mr O’Higgins said Det Garda Fitzgerald would deny the whole thing but would say he remembered Ms Farrell telling him she was due to meet Senator Callanan in the Munster Arms on the recommendation of some other councillor regarding planning matters.

He said Det Garda Fitzgerald would say Ms Farrell asked him what type of person Senator Callanan was and he told her there was “no better man” when it came to sorting out planning matters and that was all.

However, Ms Farrell rejected this and said Det Garda Fitzgerald had introduced herself and her husband to Senator Callanan. “Jim Fitzgerald introduced us to Peter Callanan, we would have never approached a senator [otherwise], we would have gone to a councillor,” she said.