THE High Court has ordered that the brother of a solicitor who "effectively embezzled" money left to the Catholic Church must pay back €1.5m.
Cormac O Ceallaigh was partner in the firm Sean O Ceallaigh & Co Solicitors with his brother Ruairi, who misappropriated funds and used them for buying and refurbishing properties.
Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin had sued Cormac O Ceallaigh, Ballyteige House, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, and Ruairi O Ceallaigh, Grand Canal Street, Dublin, arising from the misappropriation.
The High Court heard how Cormac was innocent of the wrongdoing committed by his brother Ruairi and had apologised for his brother's actions.
However, the fact that both were partners in the firm meant Cormac had a liability for the €1.5m "effectively embezzled" by Ruairi, Mr Justice Peter Kelly said yesterday.
The judge last month granted judgment for €1.5m to Dr Martin on consent in a case which, the judge remarked, involved "unalloyed dishonesty of an unattractive type".
The proceedings against Cormac were adjourned to allow him apply for an indemnity from the Solicitors Mutual Defence Fund (SMDF).
Yesterday, the court heard the SMDF notified Cormac last Friday that no indemnity would be provided but he wants to seek arbitration of that refusal.
While satisfied he should enter judgment against Cormac for €1.55m, the judge granted a stay of four weeks on execution and registration of judgment to allow for arbitration.
The O Ceallaigh firm had paid Dr Martin some €155,000 from the estate of the late Donal O Suilleabhain, Our Lady's Manor, Bulloch Harbour, Dalkey, but Dr Martin only realised a further €1.5m was due to the church after media reports last August of Law Society proceedings against the firm.
The €1.5m due under the will of Mr O Suilleabhain was misappropriated by Ruairi, said to have a gambling problem, and used by him towards buying and refurbishing properties at Grand Canal Street and Cabra Park, Dublin.