Saturday 21 October 2017

From terrorist to builder to bankrupt

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

DESPITE his IRA past, bust property developer Tom McFeely is willing to change his national allegiances when it suits his pocket.

Originally from Dungiven, Co Derry, in 1980 during a prison term in the Maze he was among the IRA hunger strikers protesting against the British government's refusal to grant them political status.

But just over 30 years later, having built up a multimillion euro property empire only to see it crumble in the face of the Priory Hall debacle and estimated debts of €200m, he was happy to recast himself as a willing subject of the queen in order to cut himself a better bankruptcy deal in the UK.

"As a British citizen, I have always objected to being forced into bankruptcy in a foreign jurisdiction purely on the basis that I have a judgment liability in that state," he told a Dublin court.

His UK bankruptcy failed and he was declared bust here in July last year.

PICASSO

Mr McFeely joined the IRA in the late 1960s. In 1974, he was arrested for possession of guns and was jailed in Portlaoise Prison but escaped along with 18 other republican prisoners after they used gelignite to blow a hole in the perimeter wall.

Two years later, he was back in prison, this time in the Maze in the North, with a 26-year sentence for terrorist offences, including the non-fatal shooting of an RUC officer. He joined the hunger strikes and went 53 days without food.

Mr McFeely served 12 years, and on his release headed to Dublin to make his fortune, reputedly with only £240 to his name.

Over the following decade, he progressed from labourer to property developer and was involved in several small schemes in Co Donegal and in the greater Dublin area.

By the turn of the century he hit the big time with his longstanding business partner Larry O'Mahony with the €40m Plaza Hotel project in Tallaght.

But it was their purchase of a long-term lease on a car park adjacent to the Square shopping centre that catapulted McFeely to another level.

Irish Independent

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