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Judge tells the lawyers to 'wise up' as Michelle privacy row drags on

SHE may have taken a case to the High Court to protect her privacy, but Michelle Morrison's legal action has put her firmly in the glare of the public eye.

For four days, the glamorous former Miss Ireland and wife of Van Morrison has made the trip to the Four Courts, determined to ensure the seclusion of her palatial family home will not be compromised.

Yet in doing so, her disagreement with neighbours Desmond and Mary Kavanagh has turned a spotlight on life in the upmarket enclave of Sorrento Road in Dalkey.

It has also tried the patience of presiding Judge Michael Hanna, who was yesterday forced to tell counsels for the two parties to "wise up". On Tuesday, he had advised the parties to reach a resolution outside the courtroom, warning that the case was going to "cost somebody a lot of money".

It seems the warnings fell on deaf ears, as a full day of negotiations on Wednesday ended without agreement. And as the case will be heard again on Monday, the legal bills continue to mount up.

For the wealthy residents of Sorrento Road, which also is also home to racing driver Eddie Irvine, money is no object. Privacy, however, is the currency of importance, and one which Michelle Morrison feels was denied to her when Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council approved a redevelopment of her neighbours' home at Monte Alverno.

Proving the lengths to which the rich and famous will go to guard their seclusion, the Morrisons even specified a particular type of tree as the most adequate for screening at the boundary wall.


Alternative shrubs suggested by the Kavanaghs' expert have been rejected, leading to all manner of discussions about the subtle differences between shrubs and trees.

When the Kavanaghs began planning the redevelopment of their home, Michelle Morrison entered into discussions with them about landscaping and initially supported their planning application. This led Judge Hanna to remark in court that she "was trying to be a constructive neighbour".

However, when the neighbours failed to agree on the best type of vegetation at the boundary wall, the former Eurovision presenter decided to go to further lengths to ensure that her home at Kilross House is shielded from curious eyes.

Unfortunately, she hasn't been able to shield herself from the glare of the cameras. Now aged 49, the raven-haired one-time socialite cut an elegant figure in the courts this week, decked out in a selection of sharp black suits, formidable high heels and discreet jewellery.

Her famously publicity-shy husband has not attended court.

With matters moving at a slow pace, there was no denying the frustration on Michelle's face, or on that of her two neighbours.

Yesterday's hearing proposed a further difficulty due to the last-minute submission of a new affidavit, which caused the two counsels to engage in "squabbling". They were quickly taken to task by Mr Justice Hanna, who warned them he found the spectacle "unedifying". He was also less than impressed to learn that counsel claimed to be unable to reach an architect who must give evidence in the case as he is currently en route to Abu Dhabi.

"I'm sure he has a mobile phone. Even judges have mobile phones," he pointed out, as Morrison's counsel, Eamon Galligan, respectfully explained that the architect didn't have access to his notes while abroad.

With a sigh, Judge Hanna adjourned proceedings until Monday morning, warning the two counsels that the intervening time should be "usefully used".