Thursday 29 September 2016

Nicola Anderson: Gorse Hill family vow to take on the board of Bank of Ireland

Published 29/04/2016 | 02:30

There was an elderly woman sporting a rather heart-warming pair of hedgehog socks.

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There was Shane Ross beating his drum about the paltry number of bank shares held by the directors and a number of elderly men who rightly felt the AGM experience was not quite complete without a little nap.

Into this respectable gathering of Bank of Ireland shareholders wandered solicitor Brian O'Donnell who had comfortably pushed to the back boiler the fact that he owes them all €70m.

"You see, the bank wrote off the debts in 2010 and was rescued by the Irish State and has not in fact suffered any loss," as he explained.

So it's not the shareholders who have taken the hit then, it's us. A mere trifle.

Even so, Brian O'Donnell is dismayingly on his uppers.

Brian O’Donnell with daughter Blaise and son Blake at UCD for the Bank of Ireland AGM.
Photo: Frank McGrath
Brian O’Donnell with daughter Blaise and son Blake at UCD for the Bank of Ireland AGM. Photo: Frank McGrath

In fact, things are so bad that he has an income which is "probably not much more than what you get," he said - directing his remarks at the UTV reporter who was very actively earning his crust out in the frozen cold.

Things have been very stressful. "But we are a strong family and we will fight on, we will keep going because we know we are right," said O'Donnell.

There were "many more" people in their position. The sums involved were "irrelevant" because the results are the same - "the same upset, the same suicide rates and so on under pressure from bank officials," O'Donnell added rather airily.

This AGM had none of the fireworks of last year when O'Donnell threw "the bloody keys" at CEO Richie Boucher.

The board visibly stiffened as O'Donnell, daughter Blaise and son Blake walked into the room taking prominent seats in the front row.

But it was all very civilised.

O'Donnell didn't even raise his voice once, having magnanimously moved on from his own finances to matters of wider concern.

Like how the Bank of Ireland is being run: "A shambles," he claimed.

He has now reinvented himself as Bank of Ireland saviour, setting up a UK-based company, Remove BOI Board Ltd, which aims to gather enough proxy forms to depose the four key board members, including Richie Boucher.

Gorse Hill remains unsold, revealed Blake O'Donnell, adding that they understand the bank have spent "up to a million" on security.

The family have lodged proceedings in the Court of Human Rights.

In the meantime, we heard that Bank of Ireland have carried out 36 repossessions so far this year.

"People are going to bed in this country cold and hungry and the way you'll have it, they'll be out on the side of the road," shareholder Seamus Flood told the board.

Apparently the O'Donnell's still regard themselves as being no different.

Irish Independent

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