Monday 22 January 2018

McFeely warned not to take law into own hands

Tim Healy and Dearbhail McDonald

Cowboy builder Tom McFeely has made a bizarre outburst in court.

He blamed the media for all his troubles and also claimed that the condemned Priory Hall development – evacuated over fire safety concerns – should still be open for business.

The former IRA hunger striker was advised by a judge not to take the law into his own hands after he made veiled threats against the media.

In an extraordinary series of allegations during an unsuccessful attempt to overturn his bankruptcy yesterday, the 64-year-old father of five claimed that:

• Priory Hall should never have been closed down.

• Thousands of other apartments will also be closed when 'the truth' about Priory Hall emerges – because the same problems exist all around the country.

• His marriage had broken down because of coverage by the 'gutter media'.

• He believed that what had happened to him was 'a travesty' which was happening "because of where I was born".

• He was 'oppressed' and had been fighting bigotry all his life.

Mr McFeely appealed to the court to protect him from the "gutter media" – specifically the Irish Independent and 'Evening Herald' – which had come to his home last week and photographed his daughter.

"I don't know if it was in the public interest, I doubt it."

His daughter had dropped 25 points in her Leaving Cert and his marriage had also broken up because of the media, he said. "And I am sure they will be delighted with that."

Mr McFeely said that he did not want to "take the law into my own hands".

When asked by High Court judge 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 he was – as long as he did so lawfully.

Mr McFeely replied that he was sorry to sound a bit aggressive and that he was "getting a little old for that anyway".

Mr McFeely was speaking during an application to overturn a High Court decision in July declaring him a bankrupt in this jurisdiction.

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

She said he had not backed up his assertion that his main centre of business was the UK. A London court rescinded a declaration of bankruptcy there.


Although another developer, Laurence O'Mahony, was involved in the Priory Hall project in Donaghmede, Dublin, he was the person who was "being held up all the time" over it.

"Is it because I am from the North and the other guy is a citizen of the Republic," he asked.

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

"I 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 over his failure to pay a €100,000 debt to her.

He said references by her 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".

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?"

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

Irish Independent

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