Sheriff given power to seize Reilly's belongings
HEALTH Minister James Reilly is facing new pressure over his unpaid debts after the sheriff was given the power to seize his belongings if he doesn't pay €1.9m.
The revelation came as a second government minister was embroiled in a court action over a disputed debt yesterday.
In the latest embarrassment for the Government, the Minister for Small Business was also at the centre of a court action.
Junior Minister John Perry settled an action with Hilary Burke, a Galway widow, over the alleged failure to pay a €1.3m debt relating to the lease of a hotel.
The development came as it emerged that the High Court has paved the way for Dr Reilly's assets to be seized and sold if he fails to pay the massive nursing home investment debt.
On top of being the first-ever sitting cabinet minister to be listed as a debt defaulter, Dr Reilly is now the subject of a sheriff's order to seize his assets if he doesn't pay his debt.
Orders have been drawn up at the Central Office of the High Court allowing the Dublin City and County Sheriff to take control of property owned by Dr Reilly as creditors turn up the heat on the embattled politician and four others who failed to pay the debt.
The sheriff orders, issued days after the debt was registered in the courts, have not yet been received by John Fitzpatrick, the Sheriff for Dublin City and County.
But Mr Fitzpatrick said he will have no option but to move on the orders, which allow bailiffs to forcibly enter properties and seize assets such as cars and paintings, if directed to do so by the courts.
"Once we receive it (the orders), we have to execute it," said Mr Fitzpatrick, who added that the orders, which are known as fieri facias (Latin for 'that you cause to be made') or 'fifa' for short, are powerful tools used by creditors as part of an overall strategy to force debtors to pay up.
Last night Mr Reilly's office accepted that execution orders have been drawn up in respect of each of the five debtors.
But his office said solicitors for the creditors wrote to the minister's own legal representatives to say the order has only been sent to the sheriff for execution in the case of one of the debtors.
Dr Reilly has been unable to shake the controversy surrounding his debts since he was named as a debt defaulter in the 'Stubbs Gazette' earlier this month.
His name appeared alongside four others over their failure to live up to an agreement to pay €1.9m to purchase the nursing home in Co Tipperary, which they first invested in 12 years ago.
Although the minister says complex negotiations are ongoing to settle the debt, his creditors have now piled even more pressure on him to cough up the cash.
If he is unable to, his creditors can now instruct the sheriff to seize and sell his assets to cover the debt.
John Fitzpatrick, Sheriff of the County of Dublin who has been acting since February last as the city Sheriff also, said that the execution orders were being increasingly used to pay the debts of professionals including barristers and solicitors.