Monday 24 July 2017

When an Irishman's home is his hassle

Brian O'Donnell keeps doing the same thing and expecting a new outcome, writes Eilis O'Hanlon. What would Einstein say?

Brian O'Donnell and Richie Boucher
Brian O'Donnell and Richie Boucher
Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Pat
An exterior view

Eilis O'Hanlon

If you owe the bank thousands, it's your problem. If you owe the bank millions, it's their problem. So goes the old cliche, first attributed to John Paul Getty. Unfortunately for those who do owe the banks large sums of money, that may have been true once, but it certainly isn't any more. Brian O'Donnell, former resident of Gorse Hill, is proof of that.

O'Donnell and his wife, Mary Pat, owe Bank of Ireland around €60m but, ultimately, the bank has ensured that this is very much Mr and Mrs O'Donnell's problem. The saga has transfixed the country for months. The protracted legal battles. The dramatic stand-off in Killiney. The media scrum. The final dramatic moment when O'Donnell walked into the recent Bank of Ireland AGM and handed ceo Richie Boucher back "The Bloody Keys" in front of the cameras.

On last Tuesday's Today With Pat Kenny, O'Donnell had the chance to put his side of the story; and it was possible, just possible, to feel a certain sympathy for the man as he ran through the sequence of events. He's not the only high-flyer to come crashing down to Earth, but many of those other investors, entrepreneurs and developers had their debts written off. There was a good case for doing so too.

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