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Saturday 25 November 2017

Mountjoy stint beckons but businessman can't be found

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

"What would I know about my son's business? I just mind my own."

Last Friday, the only business Maura Rigney appeared to be concerned about was the business of baking apple tarts in the back kitchen of her home in Mount Bolus, Co Offaly.

Maura certainly had little time to be talking to anybody about her son, Donal, who the papers were reporting as being on the run from the gardai.

"All I know is what is in the papers, and can you believe half of what you read in them?" she said, smiling.

Asked if her son was a friend of Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Mrs Rigney humourously dismissed the question, saying: "Sure aren't we all friends of Brian Cowen. He's our neighbour.

"He only lives down the road for God's sake."

Mrs Rigney's pet Jack Russell Terrier, Tiny, meanwhile, was swinging in a pendular fashion from my trouser leg, his teeth clamped to the fabric as if his little life depended on it.

Unlike his apologetic and polite owner, Tiny has no time for questions from the Sunday Independent about Donal Rigney.

Mr Rigney -- who 'celebrated' his 35th birthday at a location unknown last Friday -- is, as they say, in a small spot of bother after failing to return 17 pieces of machinery including dumper trucks, cranes and excavators worth an estimated €2m to finance providers, Lombard Ireland.

He's also into National Irish Asset Finance (NIAF) for the not inconsiderable sum of €500,000 in relation to lease and hire agreements it had with him, the High Court heard last week.

According to Mr Rigney's version of events, much of the machinery is currently in Dubai and no longer under his control.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy however, was unconvinced by the Tullamore-based businessman's explanations and ordered last Monday that he be committed to Mountjoy Prison until the machinery was returned.

While gardai say they spoke to Mr Rigney by phone that day, by the time they called to his home in Mount Bolus, he was gone.

Last Friday, there were no signs of life at the Rigney house. Even the silver BMW 5 series parked next to the property's two-bay garage looked to have been off the road for some time, judging by its insurance and tax discs, which were expired by six and three months respectively.

According to the latest reports of his whereabouts, the suddenly elusive Mr Rigney is believed to be somewhere over the Border in Northern Ireland.

All of which has left his employees at the Hire Depot in the Axis business park in Tullamore more than a little anxious, as they try to go about doing their jobs at a time when their boss is the talk of the town and country, and for all the wrong reasons.

A visit by the Sunday Independent to the premises last Friday was unsurprisingly met with a tense response. Indeed, as our photographer Gerry Mooney pictured machinery being returned to the company's storage yard, a concerned employee threatened to phone gardai, before heading back inside the firm's offices.

Pictures of heavy machinery being returned to the Hire Depot last Friday will no doubt be viewed with some interest by the people at Lombard Ireland, and more particularly at NIAF.

Last Wednesday, counsel for NIAF, Padraic Lyons, told the High Court that an agent for the company had twice been unable to collect any of its machinery from Mr Rigney's Tullamore depot.

Sunday Independent

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