KBC seeks urgent hearing over Strokestown property

Co Roscommon farm was scene of violence against security guards last December

A burnt out vans  in the yard of the house which was the scene of an eviction in Strokestown, Co Roscommon last December. Photograph: Peter Murtagh

A burnt out vans in the yard of the house which was the scene of an eviction in Strokestown, Co Roscommon last December. Photograph: Peter Murtagh

 

KBC Bank’s right of possession over the McGann family home in Falsk, near Strokestown, Co Roscommon, “is really about the integrity of the rule of law,” the High Court has been told.

Rossa Fanning SC told the court that Michael Anthony McGann owed KBC more than €431,000 on the house, of which almost €192,000 was arrears.

The last payment made against the debt was €500, which was paid in February 2014.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds was told the bank began possession proceedings in 2009, was granted a possession order in 2012, and executed the possession order on December 11th last.

However, in the early hours of December 16th, 2018, there was an incident in which three security guards at the house were attacked and had to be hospitalised, a dog that was injured had to be put down, and a number of vehicles were burned out, Mr Fanning told the court.

The bank issued proceedings in May against Mr McGann, his brother David, and his sister Geraldine, as well as “persons unknown occupying premises at Falsk, Strokestown, Co Roscommon”.

Mr Fanning said the bank delayed issuing the proceedings as it did not want to “inflame the situation on the ground” in Roscommon and had been asked by An Garda Síochána, who were conducting an inquiry into the events of December 16th, to defer civil proceedings.

This was the reason the bank “did not charge into court” in December despite the bank being out of possession of the property, having lawfully gained possession on December 11th.

The court heard the three McGann siblings are living in the house and the bank’s position is that they are all bound by the 2012 possession order, which had never been appealed.

David and Geraldine McGann had been joined to the proceedings because they were in occupation of the house. They were represented in court but Michael Anthony McGann, who is the debtor and had been put on notice of the proceedings, was not in court.

Lawyers acting for David and Geraldine McGann had issued proceedings in February against a number of parties complaining about the manner in which the bank had gained possession of the house, Mr Fanning said.

The case before the court had an importance beyond its own facts and was “really about the integrity of the rule of law”.

It was important that the legal effect of the possession order should be vindicated and that this should be done “in early course.”

Eanna Mulloy SC, for David and Geraldine McGann, said his clients had been surprised by the taking of the bank’s proceedings. Their proceedings are challenging the proper authority of the possession that took place on December 11th, and if they were successful it would mean the possession was not properly executed.

He disputed a claim from Mr Fanning that the proceedings taken by the two siblings were not being pursued with vigour.

Mr Fanning said the bank would prefer if the proceedings it was taking could go to hearing before the end of the law term on July 31st.

Ms Justice Reynolds put the case back for mention again in two weeks, in order to see if the matter was ready to go to hearing.

Afer hearing that he shared the Falsk residence with his two siblings and had been served with papers, the judge said she was satisfied that Michael Anthony McGann had been property served with notice of the proceedings.