Gorse Hill: O’Donnells remain at Killiney mansion as deadline passes

New Land League members plan press conference for ‘significant announcement’

Tim O' Brien reports from Gorse Hill in Killiney as deadline approaches.

 

A reported 4pm deadline for Brian and Mary O’Donnell to leave their home on Vico Road in Killiney has passed without incident.

As the deadline approached, members of the New Land League who have been blockading the gateway at Gorse Hill said they would hold a press conference in Dublin at 6pm in which they would outline the O’Donnells’ position in relation to court proceedings seeking their removal from the house.

It was the latest in a list of deadlines to have passed since a receiver for the Bank of Ireland was expected to take possession of the home on Monday.

New Land League spokesman Jerry Beades, who was seen to go inside the property, later emerged to schedule the 6pm press conference, telling reporters an “announcement” would be significant.

The spokesman for the group which opposes bank repossessions said the O’Donnells had no deadline to face and would contest any legal moves against them.

The case is expected back before Mr Justice Brian McGovern on Thursday.

Legal battle

On Tuesday, journalists and TV crews entered the Killiney Hill grounds of Gorse Hill, the upmarket house at the centre of a legal battle between Mr O’Donnell - a property investor, his family and Bank Of Ireland.

Members of the media were led by broadcaster Vincent Browne, who stepped into the property when the gates were opened to admit Mr Beades.

Asking were other media “wimps”, Mr Browne led a posse of journalists and camera crews down the drive to the house.

Efforts by Mr Browne and other media to get a response by knocking at the door were unsuccessful.

A dog could be heard barking inside as window shutters opened slightly. However, on getting no answer, most of the journalists then retreated to the roadway.

Legal options are narrowing for the beleaguered couple, barricaded inside the mansion in south Co Dublin.

With notice of trespass served by email and the nailing of court papers on the gate of the former family home, the couple were reported to have until 4pm on Wednesday to vacate the property – or face possible committal for refusing to obey a court order.

Frequent protests

However, members of the New Land League – which has been involved in frequent protests at party political events, evictions and formal events – have said the couple is calling on the Taoiseach and the Attorney General to read the family’s dossier of files in the case.

The group called a press briefing for later on Wednesday. Mr Beades said he would outline a dossier of files exposing serious wrongdoings against the O’Donnells.

The New Land League told The Irish Times the dossier would be made available to the media if the Taoiseach and Attorney General refused to intervene in the case.

The case is due to back in the courts on Thursday afternoon and a spokesman said the O’Donnells would contest it at that time.

Legal sources indicated that if the O’Donnells do not vacate the property, the bank would have two ways to enforce court orders.

It could lodge papers seeking to have the Dublin Sheriff attend and take possession of the house under Garda supervision, a process that could take weeks or months to complete.

‘Attachment and commital’

Alternatively the bank could seek to have the couple declared in contempt of court, which could result in “attachment and committal”, the general mechanism used when somebody is in breach of a court order.

This refers to the process by which individuals are brought to court by gardaí to explain their failure to comply with an order.

“The softer one is the sending out of the Sheriff because it takes weeks, months sometimes, for the paperwork to be processed by the central office of the High Court, and for the Sheriff to find a time in his diary to attend and take possession,” the legal source said.

Ordinarily banks do not apply for an order for committal of someone who remains in possession of a house.

The couple could give up possession and take separate court proceedings for damages due to loss of property rights, for example.

To do this they would likely have to leave the property and take a claim that could realistically only result in damages.

The process would take a number of years.