Monday 23 April 2018

McFeely says he's now a 'Celtic Tiger scapegoat'

Developer Tom McFeely’s Priory Hall cost State millions of euro. Photo: PA
Developer Tom McFeely’s Priory Hall cost State millions of euro. Photo: PA
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Disgraced builder Tom McFeely claims he has been "scapegoated" as the one developer responsible "for the many wrongs and excesses of the Celtic Tiger years".

The Priory Hall developer, who has debts of more than €20m, has also alleged that he was singled out because of his previous involvement with the Provisional IRA.

The astonishing outburst is contained in an affidavit he filed as part of his failed bid to emerge from bankruptcy.

Earlier this month, the High Court decided to extend his period of bankruptcy by almost five years over Mr McFeely's failure to cooperate with an insolvency official and "very grave" breaches of bankruptcy laws.

In the document, seen by the Irish Independent, Mr McFeely claimed records taken by insolvency officials from his former premises had been obtained in an irregular or illegal way.

He also accused official assignee Christopher Lehane of using "unsubstantiated" media reports to extend his bankruptcy term.

His allegations were rejected by the High Court.

An affidavit filed by Mr Lehane detailed how Mr McFeely had frustrated efforts to manage his estate after he became bankrupt in 2012.

This included giving an address in Derry, where it is alleged Mr McFeely did not live, failing to give the address where he was mainly domiciled, and refusing to give an email address and phone number.

Mr McFeely claimed in court papers he had no email address and that Mr Lehane had deliberately avoided corresponding with him at his Derry address.

The 67-year-old developer also denied a report he had violently threatened a female journalist in Portugal and reports that he had been in the USA. He claimed Mr Lehane, whose investigations led to the extension of the bankruptcy period, appeared "to be taking his lead from the media".

In the affidavit, Mr McFeely said: "A vocal section of the media, but not all media, has displayed naked hostility towards me and my family. My story has never been told."

Despite being a staunch republican and former IRA hunger striker, Mr McFeely said in the papers he was a British citizen.

He denied any "absence of cooperation" and blamed his failure to personally take detailed or forensic notes of his portfolio for apparent omissions from his statement of affairs.

"Also, at that time I was facing and dealing with other challenges, some of which were well publicised," he said.


Mr McFeely said he "totally denied" reports that he smashed a glass off a table and lunged at a female journalist in Portugal.

He also claimed he had only been able to travel there to deal with the repossession of a property thanks to the assistance of his family.

The builder also claimed it was "incorrect" to say he had been in the USA at a time when he claimed his only source of income was a pension.

Mr McFeely hit the headlines in 2011 when the High Court ordered that the Priory Hall complex in north Dublin had to be evacuated due to major fire risks.

Millions of euro in taxpayers' money had to be spent rehousing residents and on remediation works to make the apartments safe to live in.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section