Thursday 21 September 2017

NAMA sues wife of Priory Hall's McFeely

Developer Tom McFeely
Developer Tom McFeely

NAMA has begun a legal action against the wife of Priory Hall developer Tom McFeely over "substantial" debts claimed by the agency, the Irish Independent has learned.

It comes as shamed mortgage lender KBC said it has written-off €17,000 in mortgage interest the bank tried to claim from the bereaved fiancee of Priory Hall campaigner Fiachra Daly following his tragic death.

The bank sparked an outcry when it sent a letter seeking repayment of the debt last week.

Last night, KBC said it has now written off a bill for interest the bank tried to claim from recently bereaved mother-of-two Stephanie Meehan following the death of her partner.

Separately, it has now emerged that the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) has kicked off a legal action against Nina Lynn Kessler, the wife of builder and former hunger striker Tom McFeely, who was one of the builders behind Priory Hall.

NAMA is seeking a summary judgment order against her – the first legal step in recovering a debt – according to papers filed with the High Court.

It is thought the money being pursued is linked to her husband's former property empire, which collapsed leaving massive debts to the state agency and other banks.

Tom McFeely has already been declared bankrupt over his debts. Last year, NAMA seized the couple's luxury period mansion on Ailesbury Road, in Dublin's expensive Ballsbridge neighbourhood, over an unpaid mortgage of €9.5m.

However, Ms Lynn Kessler continues to operate a guest house in a large property in the Dublin suburb of Ranelagh.

In recent months, NAMA also repossessed the €6m home of Larry O'Mahony, Tom McFeely's business partner in Priory Hall, at nearby No 7 Shrewsbury Road, also in Ballsbridge.

Mr O'Mahony declared himself bankrupt in the UK in April 2012 and claimed he had been cleared of all bankruptcy debt.

Mr McFeely and Mr O'Mahony were substantial borrowers from Michael Fingleton's Irish Nationwide Building Society before it had to be bailed out by taxpayers. They borrowed almost €30m from the building society to build Priory Hall.

The bankruptcies of the pair makes it virtually impossible for the victims of the Priory Hall debacle to seek compensation from the builders of their death-trap homes.

Priory Hall residents were forced to abandon their homes in 2011 after the council's fire authorities deemed it unsafe to live in.

Many have been housed in temporary accommodation, some paid for by Dublin City Council (DCC), which is due to go to the Supreme Court in October to appeal a decision ordering them to pay for the residents' temporary accommodation.

A mediation process between residents at the complex, banks and local authorities was supposed to find a solution to the crisis. However, it is understood retired Supreme Court judge Mr Joseph Finnegan had informed banks and residents in early August that there was little more he could do in the mediation.

But it appears Environment Minister Phil Hogan was unaware the mediation process had drawn to a close. He last week indicated he would only intervene when it had come to a close.

"No final report has been issued from the judge. It will come to a conclusion when he reports back to the courts next month," a Department of the Environment spokesman said.

Last night, KBC said it had now written off a bill for interest the bank tried to claim from Stephanie Meehan following the death of her partner, Fiachra Daly.

She had called KBC Bank "highly insensitive" after she received a letter from it days after publicly recounting her partner's tragic suicide.

Ms Meehan received a number of letters from the bank, as revealed by the 'Sunday Independent', one of which informed her that while Mr Daly's life policy would cover the repayment of couple's €295,300.68 mortgage, she would continue to be charged interest on the arrears until the policy paid out.

Ms Meehan (35) told how the stress of the Priory Hall debacle took its toll on her partner, who took his own life in their temporary accommodation on July 15.

'UNPROFESSIONAL'

Last night KBC Bank stated it had now informed her mortgage adviser that it would be writing off the debt.

"KBC will not be pursuing Stephanie Meehan or the estate of the late Fiachra Daly for any residual balance due on the mortgage," it said.

KBC deeply regrets if the bank added further to the upset of Ms Meehan and her family following the passing of Fiachra Daly," it stated.

It emphasised that other Priory Hall mortgage-holders were being offered a 'freeze' on loan repayments.

Mortgage adviser Michael Dowling, who has been aiding Ms Meehan and other residents, said the bank's decision to make an offer to Ms Meehan public was "unprofessional", as financial institutions generally refused to comment on specific cases.

"This smacks totally of a bank that realise they have made a major cock-up in terms of how they dealt with the situation. They are trying to backtrack now and I am appalled to think an offer to Stephanie is now in the public domain," he added.

By Donal O'Donovan  and Louise Hogan

Irish Independent

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