Farm Ireland

Monday 23 October 2017

Family feud over Wicklow farm ends up in High Court

Tim Healy

A large white cross and a number of banners erected behind a house which is up for sale have put off potential purchasers, the High Court heard.

The cross and signs are behind the home of the late Mairead Manley and were erected by her farmer son, Jason, who has been in dispute with two of his three siblings over the proceeds of their mother's estate, it is claimed.

The house is at Ballynabarney, Rathnew, Co Wicklow, and it was left to Mrs Manley's daughter Eileen Verveen and her son Nigel Manley. She left an adjoining 70-acre farm to Jason who already had a home built on what had been the farm, as had a third son Stephen.

The executors of her will, solicitors Laurence and Augustus Cullen, Tuesday (November 8) were granted an injunction by Mr Justice Paul Gilligan, preventing Jason from interfering with the sale of the property and requiring him to remove the cross and banners.

Jason was not in court. The judge was satisfied he knew of the court date after being told by Fionan Ó'Murcheartaigh BL, for the executors, that he had been properly served with papers. 

In an affidavit, Augustus Cullen said that before her death in October 2014, Mrs Manley had been ill in hospital and to prepare for her discharge, works were done to her daughter Eileen's home in Glenealy, Co Wicklow, to provide a chalet and a specialised shower unit for the mother.

Mr Cullen said after her death, Jason made a series of claims including that his mother's estate retained an interest in those works to Eileen's home. Difficulties also arose over the boundaries and sewage/water services for the mother's house which Eileen and Nigel wanted to sell.

These issues were resolved and an agreement was reached over the boundaries and works to deal with the services. Under it, Jason was to be paid €10,000 from the proceeds, Mr Cullen said.

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However, when the house was put on the market, Jason put up the white cross, on a spot where there had previously been a discrete memorial stone flat on the ground, Mr Cullen said. A number of signs bearing words like "child protection" were also put up, he said.

When prospective purchasers of the house arrived and saw the signs and cross, they lost interest, he said.

Mr Cullen said the signs have nothing to do with the dispute with Eileen and Nigel but relate to a separate dispute with the other brother, Stephen.

Jason was warned an injunction would be sought and the signs were temporarily removed, though the cross was not. During one viewing by a potential purchaser, Jason went to his farm shed and pulled out placards which he placed against the fence, Mr Cullen said.

He also shouted at the viewers referring to the HSE and obscenities referring to a third party, he said.

Further efforts to resolve the dispute were unsuccessful with Jason initially agreeing to take down the cross and signs again after Mr Cullen told him (Jason) he would make representations on his behalf in relation to two other separate disputes he has with Eileen.

However, the signs went back up, this time nearer his brother Stephen's house, Mr Cullen said.

The auctioneer trying to sell the house is concerned further interference with viewings is making the house unsaleable.

Mr Cullen said the behaviour of Jason is unreasonable, dissipating the value of the estate, and reducing the inheritance of Eileen and Nigel.

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