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Parked plans may be back on agenda for Van

KEVIN MURPHY THEY say that high walls make good neighbours. Except, in the case of Van Morrison and Eddie Irvine it didn't work.

Van the Man, particularly, felt the wrath of wealthy neighbour Alphonsus O'Mara who went all the way to the Supreme Court in 2003 - and won - in his bid to stop the singer widening the shared driveway between their homes, Kilross and Monte Alverno, in expensive Dalkey, Co Dublin.

One of the hearings heard that racing driver Eddie Irvine and Phons had had their run-ins too. Eddie bailed out of Kilross Cottage, which he transformed in late 2004 from a two-bedroom cottage into a gigantic home, shelling out ?5m or so in the process.

In a letter between the architects for the two warring parties, Phons complained that callers to Van's house were using Phons's bell, that he was an answering service for The Man and that he just wanted to be left in peace. So, no love lost there then.

Van's missus, Michelle Rocca, complained that the safety of her children was at risk on the driveway. And in an earlier High Court judgment, Mr Justice Kelly said: "This case attests to the fact that the payment of a substantial price for a good house gives no guarantee of good neighbours."

All this is by way of preamble. Phons has just put Monte Alverno on the market which will probably make tonight a marvellous night for a moondance for Van. The house has six bedrooms, stands on 1.2 acres and is priced at ?25m.

Not bad considering he bought it from socialite Renata Coleman in 1992 for about ?1.3m. Time to lob in that new planning permission, Van.


THE former home of one of the most influential people in the Irish fashion world is on the market again.

Dunsland, Greygates, Mount Merrion, Co Dublin is for auction on May 10 with an AMV of ?3m and the best of luck to the sellers.

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It was the family home of Pauline Clotworthy, the founder of the Grafton Academy of Dress Designing who died in December 2004 at the fine age of 92.

She trained the biggest names in Irish fashion such as Richard Lewis, Ib Jorgensen, Louise Kennedy, Paul Costelloe, Glenys Robbins, Liz Quin and Carolyn Donnelly. Her house was sold in 2005 for about ?1.85m and with the dreaded stamp duty the total cost was over ?2m.

The new owners, a local development duo who live down the road on Fosters Avenue, have spent anywhere up to ?400,000 revamping and extending the detached five-bed on massive gardens. Not to mention the cost of carrying the financing for two years.

And now it's crunch time. Will they get their money back? Let's hope so. The market around Mount Merrion has seen prices falling in recent months and there's not a lot of wriggle room on this one.


IT looks as if the stamp duty fiasco is going to decide the next general election, whether we like it or not.

At the tail end of a boom that saw the Exchequer rake in almost ?3bn last year from the tax, undecided voters are going to elect the next government on its generosity of spirit. And if that means auction politics, then so be it.

Never mind that the battle for total reform of this onerous duty has been lost. Or that abolishing it for first-time buyers of second-hand houses will only affect a small portion of the market.

No, general elections are won and lost on easily graspable notions. That's why Finance Minister Brian Cowen's huffing and puffing on Questions and Answers last week was less than impressive.

He confused us by saying Bertie Ahern did not agree stamp duty should be amended; claimed any reductions would only see house prices increase; and added that he did not want to be drawn into auction politics.

Instead he chanted the mantra of returning stability to the property market. But the market is stable. It's slowing, but it's stable.

All Fianna Fail has to do is match the other election offers and then the issue - and the uncertainty - goes away.

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