Monday 20 November 2017

Daughter seeks to block bank from O'Donnell family home

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Blaise O'Donnell leaves the Supreme Court yesterday.
Blaise O'Donnell leaves the Supreme Court yesterday.

Tim Healy

A DAUGHTER of property investor and solicitor Brian O'Donnell is trying to block Bank of Ireland from the right to enter the family home.

Lawyers for Blaise O'Donnell told the Supreme Court yesterday an order was made "in secret" which required her to give access to her home at Gorse Hill, Vico Road in Killiney, Co Dublin, or face prison.

The bank is pursuing Mr O'Donnell and his wife Mary for €75m and sought to take an inventory. They were examining the artwork, paintings, carpets, furniture, antiques, sculptures, jewellery, ornaments and electronic appliances. Officials from a solicitor's firm carried out the inventory last Monday.

In an affidavit, Blaise O'Donnell said she was "aghast" such an order could be made in secret. The search of the house, including her bedroom, was "a gross invasion of my privacy".

Last week, Mr Justice Peter Kelly granted a number of orders restraining Brian and Mary O'Donnell, their four children Bruce, Blaise, Alexandra and Blake and three companies -- Vico Ltd, Chancery Trustees Ltd and Vico Barton Ltd -- from destroying, hiding or parting with certain items at Gorse Hill.

Ross Maguire, for Ms O'Donnell, said the fact that the orders were granted in the High Court "in secret" raised issues of profound constitutional importance. He claimed that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear such a matter in private.

Mr Maguire said his client did not have any intention of dissipating the assets or destroying them to frustrate any creditor. But Paul Gardiner, for the bank, said the order had been correctly made and it was now expired.

He said even if the Supreme Court found that the application should not have been heard in camera, it still had to decide whether this affected the main order. Yesterday, Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Denham, who said the case raised a very important point, agreed to hear the appeal and listed it for mention on May 24.

Meanwhile, in the High Court yesterday, Mr Justice Kelly adjourned a full hearing of the injunction application until later this month after Ms O'Donnell gave an undertaking to comply with the order until then.

It was agreed to adjourn all proceedings until May 21. The injunctions granted by the court are to remain in place.


The bank wants to get the dispute about the contents of Gorse Hill admitted to the Commercial Court, and intends to take possession of the property in August.

The bank's concerns arose out of statements made by Mr O'Donnell during cross-examination. A statement of net worth prepared by Deloitte in 2005, and provided to Bank of Ireland, stated the O'Donnells had an art collection worth €7.5m.

But statements of the O'Donnells' net worth provided to BoI in 2006 by chartered accountant Rory O'Beirn -- who is Mrs O'Donnell's brother -- stated the art collection was worth €5m.

The court heard that Mr O'Donnell accepted he and his wife had art and antiques at Gorse Hill, but said the €5m valuation was "a mistake".

Irish Independent

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