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O'Donnells step up war to save family mansion

LEGAL BATTLE: Blaise O'Donnell, daughter of Brian O'Donnell and Dr Mary Pat O'Donnell

THE adult children of solicitor Brian O'Donnell are appealing a decision which allows for the fast-tracking of a legal action by Bank of Ireland against them over ownership of the contents of the family's luxury home in Killiney.

The action arises from the bank's efforts to enforce a €75m judgment against Mr O'Donnell and his wife, Mary Pat.

The O'Donnell children are bringing an appeal to the Supreme Court over a decision by Mr Justice Peter Kelly to allow the issue of ownership of the home contents to be dealt with speedily through the High Court's big business division, the Commercial Court.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Kelly refused as "without merit" an application by Ross Maguire, for Blake, Bruce, Blaise and Alexandra O'Donnell, to stay the judge's order allowing the case to proceed before the Commercial Court pending the Supreme Court appeal.

The stay application indicated no arguable basis for an appeal and a stay would sterilise the case until the Supreme Court could deal with the appeal, which was likely to be some time, he said.

He earlier told Mr Maguire to "rein in your tongue" arising from using "intemperate language" when seeking the stay, a reference to Mr Maguire describing the children as placed in an "intolerable" position as non-commercial people facing commercial litigation involving "prohibitive" costs.

Paul Gardiner, for Bank of Ireland, said the stay application was "truly astonishing" in a context where the bank had no advance notice of it and, despite having had an opportunity to consider the bank's claims Mr O'Donnell and his son Blake "concocted a web of untruth" about a "critical" email concerning an alleged trust, there was no denial of those claims.

The stay application was made after the court heard the children and their parents would give undertakings not to dissipate the contents of Gorse Hill or of a second luxury property at Barton Street, London, where Mr O'Donnell and his wife are living. Those undertakings apply pending the outcome of the bank's action over ownership of those contents.

The bank this week appointed a receiver over Vico Ltd, the company that allegedly owns Gorse Hill in trust for the children. The bank claims that trust is non-existent or "a sham".


The O'Donnell's have claimed the value of the contents of both properties is about €150,000 and the children have separately appealed to the Supreme Court against another order by Mr Justice Kelly permitting solicitors for the bank enter Gorse Hill to take an inventory of its contents. The bank sought that inventory arising from its concerns over evidence previously given by Mr O'Donnell.

When asked about earlier statements of net worth for himself and his wife in which valuations of between €5m and €7.5m were placed on their collection of art and antiques, Mr O'Donnell described those valuations as "ludicrous".

The bank initiated the proceedings on April 30 to establish ownership of the contents of the two properties. Those proceedings are against the O'Donnells and three companies.