Saturday 22 October 2016

Gorse Hill: 'We'll still be living there next year' - Blake O'Donnell

David Kearns

Published 18/04/2015 | 13:51

Blake O'Donnell as he arrives in court Credit: Justin Farrelly.
Blake O'Donnell as he arrives in court Credit: Justin Farrelly.
Blaise and Blake O'Donnell
Brian and Mary Pat O'Donnell

The embattled O’Donnell children believe they will still be in their Gorse Hill home “next year” despite their parents failed bid to have their bankruptcy overturned.

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Son Blake O’Donnell said the family was “resolved” to keep up their legal challenge to prevent its repossession, saying that they were prepared to “endure another fives years" to keep the bank out.

“We will be in Gorse Hill next year, otherwise we wouldn’t be taking our cases,” he said.

“It’s been a war zone for the last five years but none of us can walk away now. We’ve all been dragged in.”

Brian O'Donnell (left) and his son Blake arriving at the Court of Appeal in Dublin Credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Brian O'Donnell (left) and his son Blake arriving at the Court of Appeal in Dublin Credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

“I don’t know how long this will go on but we could be fighting it for another five years. If a bank doesn't like you, they can run a legal vendetta against you forever.”

“That’s what you are up against - an entity that can borrow money for nothing and keep you in the courts forever.”

Speaking to Marian Finucane on RTE Radio 1, Mr O’Donnell was asked by the host as to why his family had not simply walked away from the €7 million house, given that they owed Bank of Ireland “some €60 million in debts”.

“Well there are people that do let it go and end up hanging themselves,” he retorted.

“How are we meant to get on with our lives when the bank wouldn’t speak to us? It’s childish – they wouldn’t sit down at a table like adults and sort out this dispute. They’d rather pay senior counsel to shout in the High Court instead.”

“My father was targeted because he was not important to the scene in Dublin – he was not in one of the top five law firms in the country, he wasn’t in any of the banks or a huge developer. They went after him because they thought he was a soft target they could push around.”

Adding: “As a family, we are resolved that we are not going to be bullied.”

“If the banks wants to throw us out of our house then their paper work needs to be right, and I’m afraid, it isn’t. Simply, put we’re not going to be pushed around.”

The house at the centre of the O’Donnell’s legal battle was the home of former solicitor Brian O’Donnell and his wife, Dr Mary Pat O’Donnell, from the period of 2000 until 2011.

Sitting on 1.25 acres overlooking the Irish Sea, the property has an outdoor swimming pool and tennis court, plus an indoor gym and a sauna.

After they moved to England, the couple claimed the house was actually held in trust for their four children, Alexandra, Blaise, Blake and Bruce.

The children began proceedings but failed to convince the High Court, and subsequently the Supreme Court, to prevent the bank taking over the property.

Taking issue with how the ongoing legal battle over Gorse Hill had been reported, Mr O’Donnell dismissed accounts of “fabulous lifestyles” and “five bed mansions with helicopters out the back.”

“How do the newspapers know all this stuff - when you give something to the court it should not be ending up elsewhere ” he said.

“They should not be talking about my private possessions or what my parents have given me. It’s just outrageous.”

“Just because people are interested in it, doesn’t mean they’ve a right to know. None of this is in the public interest.”

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