Saturday 21 April 2018

McFeely claims media broke up his marriage in court rant

Developer Tom McFeely
Developer Tom McFeely

Tim Healy

PRIORY Hall developer Tom McFeely launched a bizarre rant in the High Court today claiming his marriage had broken up because of media coverage.

The Derry-born 64-year-old was advised by a judge that he should not take the law into his own hands after he made veiled threats to elements of the media.

He believed what was happening to him was "a travesty" and that it was because "I was born where I was born".

He had been "fighting bigotry" all his life and he appealed to the court to protect him from the media, specifically the Irish Independent and Evening Herald, who had come to his home last week. "I don't know if it was in the public interest, I doubt it."

His marriage had broken up because of the media, he said. "And I am sure they will be delighted with that."

He did not want to "take the law into my own hands" and when asked by Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne what he meant by this he said: "I have lived in the North for years and I have to protect myself and if somebody comes to my door I am entitled to defend myself."

Ms Justice Dunne said that was only as long as he did so lawfully.

He said he was sorry to sound a bit aggressive and that he was "getting a little old for that anyway".

The former IRA hunger striker, originally from Claudy in Derry, was speaking during an application to overturn a High Court decision last July declaring him a bankrupt in this jurisdiction.

But Ms Justice Dunne ruled he had presented nothing to the court which could change the adjudication of his bankruptcy she made in July.

In particular, he had not backed up his assertion that his main centre of business interest was the UK rather than Ireland and had ample opportunity to do so in July, she said.

A London court had rescinded a declaration of bankruptcy there, where the regime is more lax than here, and ruled that as he main centre of interest was Ireland, the bankruptcy proceedings should be dealt with here.

Mr McFeely insisted the UK was where he had done business for years.

He was being "oppressed", treated unfairly and the subject of bigotry because he was from Northern Ireland and a former IRA man, he said.

Although there was another developer, Laurence O'Mahony, involved in the Priory Hall apartments project in Donaghmede, Dublin - which was evacuated by court order due to fire safety concerns - he was the person who was "being held up all the time" over it.

"It is because I am from the North and the other guy is a citizen of the Republic, is that right," he said.

Mr McFeely, who discharged his lawyers yesterday and represented himself, said there were thousands of other apartments which would be closed down just like Priory Hall "because the same problem exists in many of them.

"I personally believe Priory Hall should not have been closed down at all and when the truth emerges about this everything will change utterly and that will emerge shortly."

Mr McFeely's challenge to his bankruptcy yesterday centred on an affidavit sworn for the July proceedings by Theresa McGuinness who brought the application to have him declared bankrupt over his failure to pay a €100,000 debt to her.

He said references by Ms McGuinness to the fact that his children went to exclusive private schools in Dublin as being evidence that Ireland was his main centre of business were "snide" and she had made "great play" of them being "upper class, whatever."

He said: "What my children have to do with where I earned my living I do not know, if I sent them to finishing school in France, is my centre of main business interest France?"

He also questioned other assertions related to his personal circumstances that his main business was here and called some of it "lies".

He no longer had properties in Portugal as had been claimed and all his properties in Ireland for which he had got rent were with NAMA or other institutions.

Ms McGuinness, who was in court yesterday, opposed his application to overturn the bankruptcy.

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