Sunday 21 April 2019

No crock of gold at the end of Vico Road rainbow for O'Donnells

Sketch

Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary
Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary

Lise Hand

It's a road of two haves - a highway of the haves and the have-mores. The main stretch of Vico Road winds between the small, satisfied villages of Killiney and Dalkey, bounded on one side by the steep rise of tree-dappled Killiney Hill and on the other by the jewel-blue sweep of Sorrento Bay.

The have-mores inhabit the lower section of Vico Road - the narrow, one-way lane which ascends past high walls and gracious gates guarding gilded existences. Bono lives here, on the street where the houses have names.

But the arm which brandishes the scales of justice is no respecter of boundaries. Its reach is long - long enough to extend past the tall wooden gates and the gravel drive bordered by pine-clustered trees and a carefully tended garden and reach the threshold of Gorse Hill - the last bastion of Brian and Mary Patricia O'Donnell's long war.

Just before 7pm, as a bitter wind swirled, a black people carrier pulled up outside the house and two men emerged, one carrying a white plastic Q4-sized envelope and a hammer. Both men, swaddled in scarves and caps, attempted to contact the occupiers of the house by intercom, to no avail. They then remained silent as they nailed the bulky trespass notice firmly and efficiently to the wooden gate, before leaving.

John Martin, of the O'Donnells' unlikely allies, the New Land League, phoned the house to inform Brian and Mary Patricia that the latest missive from the courts was affixed to their entrance.

"There's five nails in it, like a crucifixion," he declared. John's colleague, Jerry Beades, conveyed it into the house.

It's the New Land League who are doing all the talking on behalf of the O'Donnells -outside the house, and outside the High Court, where the battle raged on yesterday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, the couple's eldest son, Blake, had been before Justice Brian McGovern, seeking an injunction to prevent Bank of Ireland from seizing control of the hilltop house, while his parents remained holed up inside their palatial pad, awaiting word from their son.

But the judge refused the injunction. The wheels of justice ground swiftly. Trespass proceedings, were issued against the O'Donnells, which require them to leave the house by 4pm today. John Martin emerged from the house shortly after. The couple were staying put while they considered the order.

As darkness enveloped Gorse Hill last night, which in its pomp was a €30m monument to the property-ravenous Celtic Tiger and which is now the last outpost in the O'Donnell's dismantled property empire, solicitor Brian no doubt poured over the legal order. The moon was hidden behind clouds, obscuring the most expensive seaview in Ireland. But perhaps as rain had washed over a hitherto sunny Sorrento Bay in mid-afternoon, creating a bright rainbow which arced over the sea, the irony wasn't lost on Brian O'Donnell.

There are no crocks of gold riding to his rescue. No special dispensations for the once-rich.

For not all troubles melt like lemon drops, not even along the over-the-rainbow world of Vico Road.

Irish Independent

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