Tuesday 21 November 2017

Frustration for residents as McFeely takes UK bankruptcy

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

CONTROVERSIAL developer Tom McFeely has been declared a bankrupt in London in a move that could prevent the residents of Priory Hall from ever making him personally liable for their losses.

Priory Hall in Donaghmede, north Dublin, whose residents were evacuated because of fire safety concerns, was built by Mr McFeely's Coalport Developments. But residents could lose out in any UK bankruptcy as they are unsecured creditors of Coalport.

And they will be prevented from seeking to seize any of Mr McFeely's personal assets unless they can make him personally liable for the company's debts.

Mr McFeely, who is resisting efforts by a Dublin homeowner to have him bankrupted in Ireland, is facing yet another bankruptcy application in the High Court in Dublin on Monday.

Yesterday in London, lawyers acting for the former IRA hunger striker -- who is separately appealing an Irish High Court order to jail him for failing to remedy fire safety defects at Priory Hall -- secured a bankruptcy order for Mr McFeely at the Royal Courts of Justice.

If his bankruptcy is not challenged in London, he could be back in business within a year compared with up to 12 years in the Republic.

Last night, Priory Hall residents said that they would write immediately to Justice Minister Alan Shatter and ask the Government to overturn Mr McFeely's UK bankruptcy.

"Surely a man who endangered the lives of so many Irish citizens should not be allowed to clear his debts in 12 months when the innocent Priory Hall residents face insolvency and financial ruin through his actions," said a spokesperson for the complex's 260 residents.

Mr McFeely is due to appear before High Court Judge Elizabeth Dunne on Monday when former bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn will resist efforts by Anglo to be adjudicated a bankrupt.

Mr Quinn's bid for a shorter bankruptcy in Belfast failed after a judge there ruled that his Centre of Main Interest (COMI) was in the Republic and not the North.

Mr McFeely's UK bankruptcy petition was filed on Thursday by English law firm Merriman White which once shared the same London offices as struck-off solicitor Michael Lynn.

At one point Merriman White hired struck-off Irish solicitor Elio Malocco as its practice manager.

It was embroiled in controversy in 2007 after one of its consultants, censured solicitor Ray St John Murphy, was ordered to pay a £25,000 (€30,200) fine for client abuses.

Mr McFeely, who was released from the Maze Prison in 1989 after serving 12 years of a 26-year sentence for terrorist offences, joins a growing list of Irish debtors to file for bankruptcy in the UK.

These include developers Ray and Danny Grehan of Glenkerrin Homes.

Mr McFeely's is resisting bankruptcy proceedings issued by a Dublin woman over the failure to pay her €100,000 in damages awarded by the High Court over structural defects to a house.

The application is being brought by Teresa McGuinness, of Rush, who secured an award against Mr McFeely's Coalport Ltd in July 2009.

She sued the company for attempting to sell her a house in Balrothery, Co Dublin, which had serious structural defects. She was awarded €103,000 in damages. She also claims she is owed €200,000 in costs arising from her 2009 court action.

Irish Independent

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