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Six children of judge in €15m property fight

Six grown-up children of late Judge Noel Ryan are in a legal dispute over the management of their parents' property assets, once valued at €15m.

The case is being brought by four of the siblings against two of the others.

The action opened in the Commercial Court but was adjourned for talks until today. Mr Justice Frank Clarke said it would go on today unless it was settled out of court.

Declan Ryan, of Sittingbourne, Kent, Marie McGovern, of Foxrock, Dublin, Martin Ryan, of Baily, Co Dublin and Irene Ryan, of Stonepark Abbey, Grange Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin are bringing the action against their brother Oran Ryan, a solicitor, of Westminster Road, Foxrock, Dublin, and sister, Trinette Larkin, of Killarney, Co Kerry.

The four have made allegations over how Oran Ryan managed a family partnership which owned and managed several properties. They claim that, due to alleged acts or omissions by Oran Ryan and Trinette Larkin, they could not sell any of the properties.

All six were former members of a partnership known as the Ryan Rentals Partnership which was dissolved in October 2007.

It began life as a trust in 1972 set up by Noel and Lorna Ryan and acquired properties for investment purposes in Dublin. It also held a family holiday home in Portnoo, Co Donegal and a timeshare apartment in Lanzarote. Opening the case, Lyndon MacCann, for the plaintiffs, said the youngest sibling in the Ryan family, Fintan, died in a car accident in 1987 aged 26.

The plaintiffs would say, as they grew up, there effectively were two "families" with the five older children constituting the first family and the last two, Irene and Fintan, constituting the second, due probably to a five-year gap in ages between the "two families".

While all got on well with their father, they did not necessarily get on as well with one another, counsel said. That "unfortunate tension" was perhaps reflected "in the fact that we are regrettably here today".

Counsel said Judge Ryan was the driving force in the partnership and provided the funds while having no official legal role. As he became older, he increasingly left it to Oran.

The partnership was "technically insolvent", the court heard, in the sense the annual rent payable by it exceeded the rental income being received. If the properties had been sold earlier they would have got much higher prices. One is said to have dropped in value by 50pc.