Thursday 17 October 2019

Ex-garda and his wife have €6.8m debt written off after failed property deal

Mr Justice Denis McDonald said deal will suit creditors
Mr Justice Denis McDonald said deal will suit creditors

Aodhan O Faolain and Ray Managh

A retired garda and his wife yesterday had €6.8m in debts written off when the High Court approved their Personal Insolvency Arrangements.

Mr Justice Denis McDonald said he was satisfied to approve a PIA sought on behalf of Thomas Flanagan and his wife Jean Errity, a civil engineer, of Hortland, Donadea, Co Kildare.

The couple, who were involved in a failed property deal, had debts including €6.1m owed to Ulster Bank, €419,000 to Permanent TSB, €150,000 to a building company called MOF Construction Ltd, and €160,000 to Pepper Finance.

As part of the PIA, the couple will retain their four-bedroomed family home - valued at €430,000 - and will continue to make mortgage payments on that property.

They have also been afforded reasonable living expenses.

To fund the couple's PIAs, two investment properties owned by Mr Flanagan in Co Mayo will be sold, along with the proceeds from the sale of Mr Flanagan's share in a cottage in Co Galway he inherited from his parents.

A lump sum of more than €40,000 from family members will also go towards the funding of the arrangements.

The couple's Personal Insolvency Practitioner John McCormack, represented by barrister Keith Farry Bl, had argued the court should approve the arrangement.

He said that the couple's creditors would not be any better off if they were to be bankrupted.

The PIA was fair and equitable and maximised the couple's full debt servicing ability, counsel argued.

The couple's PIAs were opposed by Ulster Bank DAC, which had advanced loans for a property development project that did not materialise due to planning difficulties, and St Raphael's Garda Credit Union, which was owed €7,500.

The bank had argued that the couple's four-bedroomed house might be beyond their reasonable living accommodation needs and that they should seek alternative accommodation.

The couple had rejected the bank's arguments.

In his ruling, Mr Justice McDonald said that he was satisfied to approve the PIA, and dismissed the objections raised by both Ulster Bank and the credit union.

The judge said that the creditors would at worst do no better in a bankruptcy situation.

The court approval of the PIAs did not amount to an injustice to the couple's creditors, he added.

The judge also said that the couple had already made several payments towards their debts and added that this was not a case where persons seeking a PIA had "thumbed their noses at" those to whom they owed money.

Irish Independent

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