Michael O'Doherty: 'Sorry Jackie, but we'll reserve our sympathy for poor little rich girl Blaise O'Donnell'
It’s about a year since we heard from the lovely Blaise O’Donnell, daughter of solicitor Brian, whose fight to hang on to his palatial Dalkey home, Gorse Hill, entertained the nation for much of the previous two years.
Blaise was back in the news last week, however, as it emerged that she had split from her boyfriend.
One would have thought that such a break-up would have been accompanied by appeals to the Supreme Court, featuring arguments as to how the guarantee the couple had made to stay together was legally-enforceable, but for once an O’Donnell-related dispute seems to have ended quietly.
The fight to regain control of Gorse Hill, however, goes on, as the O’Donnell family continue to appeal against their eviction.
One of their supporters, Jerry Beades of the New Land League, equated that family’s plight with another very public battle currently going through the courts, saying that “[it’s] the same as Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen’s fight against banks.”
In a timely parallel Jackie herself gave an interview to a newspaper yesterday and, not for the first time, wheeled out not just one violin, but an entire orchestral string section of woe to accompany her tale.
She raged at the fact that in 2012 Ulster Bank sent a letter giving them 48 hours to pay €10.2m. “No company can survive a 48-hour on-demand notice,” she claimed, ignoring the fact that the company’s problems, and negotiations with the bank, had already been ongoing for some time.
In what has now become an endless exercise in blame shifting, Lavin claims that she and Cullen were picked on because they were easy targets, and not because, having indulged themselves in a Kildare mansion, a Kerry holiday home, a Florida holiday home, a helicopter, and a luxury hotel folly in Kerry which sucked up countless millions, they should repay the money they borrowed.
The problem with Bill and Jackie is that they signed personal guarantees, something which Jackie also seems to suggest should be outlawed.
“Limited liability should mean limited liability, but it doesn’t,” she says, adding, “if there’s a personal guarantee, [the banks] can grab anything.”
You would have thought that the couple should have known this at the time they were signing but, remarkably for one of Ireland’s most respected businessmen, Bill Cullen has claimed that he he didn’t read the guarantees he signed.
“You didn’t know you signed it. It was there in all the small print,” he previously said.
One should point out the obvious to Jackie and Bill which is that, despite all their financial woes, at least they still have each other.
Blaise O’Donnell, however, is in no such position. She’s lost her family mansion, I suspect she may be down to her last few Fendi handbags and pairs of Louboutins, and now she’s now lost her boyfriend.
If an orchestra of woe should be performing for anyone, it’s surely Blaise.