Defiant O’Donnells vow to be living in Gorse Hill next year

‘We are just not going to be pushed around’ says Blake O’Donnell of battle with bank

Blake O’Donnell, whose family is fighting eviction from Gorse Hill in Killiney, has said he is confident they will still be living in their south Dublin home next year.

Days after the Court of Appeal ordered them to move out by the end of the month, the solicitor said his family had resolved not to be "bullied" by Bank of Ireland which is attempting to secure the property in lieu of debts amounting to €71.5 million.

Mr O’Donnell likened the family’s five-year legal battle to a “warzone” and said they would defend their rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Last Wednesday, the Court of Appeal ordered the O'Donnells to leave the Vico Road, Killiney home within two weeks, allowing them time to assess whether a further appeal to the Supreme Court is possible.

Mr O'Donnell said his family had been left with little option but to fight the bank and would continue to do so. "I do think we will be living in Gorse Hill next year otherwise we wouldn't be taking our cases," he said in an interview with Marian Finucane on RTÉ radio. "The legal system is a long road. It's very labour intensive and very paper intensive and you have to take each step at a time.

“We have resolved as a family that we are not going to be bullied, that’s basically it. If the bank wants to get judgement against us, bankrupt us, throw us out of our house, their paperwork has to be right and I’m afraid it isn’t right.

“We are going to defend our position and our rights under the law and under the Constitution and under the European Convention of Human Rights and we are just not going to be pushed around.”

In dismissing the O’Donnell appeal this week, the three judge court ruled Bank of Ireland had made its case the O’Donnells had no right of residence in the house which was use used as security on the couple’s debts.

It said the bank had made a strong case against the Isle of Man company Vico, which the Supreme Court had previously ruled owns Gorse Hill, and that the bank's receiver Tom Kavanagh was entitled to possession of the property once Vico's entitlement came to an end.

Mr O’Donnell was asked in the interview if there was ever a time to consider getting on with their lives away from the legal quagmire, to which he said: “How are we meant to get on with our lives when the bank won’t speak with us? We have written letters to the bank asking for meetings trying to sort these difficulties out.

"It's extremely childish. They can't sit down at a table like adults and try to sort this dispute out, they prefer to pay senior counsel to shout in the High Court instead."

He agreed his family had been selected by the bank to be made an example of, saying there were others who owed far more who were not being “dragged backwards” through the courts.

“[MY FATHER] wasn’t systemically important to the scene in Dublin. He wasn’t in one of the top five law firms; he wasn’t in any of the major banks; he wasn’t a major developer,” he said.

“They thought he was a soft target, a bit of a gentleman maybe. And they could push him around. And they probably underestimated him a bit.”