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Woman sued for repayment says pal's €280k was gift, not loan

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Jacqueline Keenaghan. Photo: Collins

Jacqueline Keenaghan. Photo: Collins

Jacqueline Keenaghan. Photo: Collins

A woman became upset several times at the High Court when disputing claims by former friends that €280,000 given to her was a loan and not a gift.

Jacqueline Keenaghan said she had been close friends for years with Fidelma 'Della' Kerrigan and her sister Celine, and could not understand why they were claiming she has failed to repay the money, which she said was offered "totally out of the blue" in August 2010.

Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy has heard the €280,000 was part of a €750,000 compensation settlement secured by Della Kerrigan for injuries in a road accident in 2002, in which her father died.

In evidence yesterday, Ms Keenaghan denied claims by the sisters the money was offered as a loan after she told them she feared losing her home as a result of her husband John's business trouble.

She also denies telling them she had problems putting food on the table, cried in front of them over money or sought money from them.

She said she had been pressed by Celine about how her husband was doing and told her he owed more than €200,000 but was working with the bank, Revenue and his solicitor to fix that.

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‘Della’ Kerrigan. Photo: Collins

‘Della’ Kerrigan. Photo: Collins

‘Della’ Kerrigan. Photo: Collins

"I never once asked for money from those girls, I'm not that type of person," she said.

She was "shocked and emotional" when the sisters offered her €240,000 on August 7, 2010, but told them she could not accept it, she said.

Persisted

Over the next several days, the sisters urged her and her husband to take the money but they continued to refuse, she said.

Her husband had said they could not take it because they could never repay it but the sisters persisted, insisting it was a gift, not a loan, and they must accept it, she said.

Ms Keenaghan and her husband agreed on August 16 to accept the money and €280,000 was given to her in bank drafts on August 30, 2010.

Addressing a reference to Della being upset about Ms Keenaghan's daughter having hired a limousine for her debs, Ms Keenaghan said her daughter sat her Leaving Certificate in 2006, four years before the money issue arose.

In her action, Della (59), of Benildus Avenue, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, claims it was agreed the money was a short-term loan and could be called in, allowing a reasonable period for the defendants to set up their new business.

Both sisters sought repayment in 2014 but it has not been paid and Ms Kerrigan is now on social welfare payments, the court heard.

The defendants, of Rathmore, Ballyshannon, deny the claims and say the money was a gift. They also deny they exercised undue influence over Ms Kerrigan.

Under cross-examination by Patrick Kean SC, Ms Keenaghan was asked about a psychiatrist's evidence that Della had suffered a brain injury as a result of the 2002 accident and also experienced "survivor guilt". She was unaware of that, she said.

Ms Keenaghan said she herself is a "very honest, kind person", the sort of person who "would go out of their way to give my last Rolo".

The hearing continues.


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