Europe

Dublin mansion row: Developer loses fight to stay in family home

The mansion is on Vico Road, Killiney, one of the most prestigious addresses in Ireland Image copyright PA
Image caption The mansion is on Vico Road, Killiney, one of the most prestigious addresses in Ireland

An Irish court has ruled a bankrupt property developer and his wife, who owe more than 70m euros (£50m) to their bank, must vacate their Dublin mansion.

Brian and Mary Pat O'Donnell effectively barricaded themselves into the house at Gorse Hill, Killiney, in February to stop a bank repossession.

They had made a settlement with Bank of Ireland in 2011, in which the mansion was used as security for bank loans.

The Court of Appeal ruled they do not have right of residence in the house.

The judge upheld an earlier High Court ruling that the bank was entitled to an injunction directing Mr and Mrs O'Donnell to leave the property.

However, she granted a two-week stay on her order, to allow the O'Donnells to apply for leave for a Supreme Court appeal.

The hearing was the latest stage in a lengthy, high-profile legal case that media have dubbed the "Battle for Gorse Hill".

The mansion, overlooking Dublin bay, is in one of the city's most expensive and prestigious residential areas, where neighbours include rock stars like U2 singer Bono. Gorse Hill includes a swimming pool and tennis courts.

The O'Donnells' fight to stay in their family home, despite owing millions to Bank of Ireland as the result of failed property investments, has strongly divided opinion.

At one stage, the couple enlisted members of the land league anti-repossession movement to block the entrance to the mansion.

On Wednesday, the judge said that in the settlement the couple made with the Bank of Ireland in March 2011, they had agreed to give full, vacant possession of Gorse Hill, if the bank decided to call in the house as security on their multi-million euro borrowings.

She added that before Mr and Mrs O'Donnell returned to Dublin to take up residency in Gorse Hill in February this year, the couple had not lived in the house since late 2011.

The judge said there was an inevitable inference they returned from the UK to prevent the bank repossessing the Dublin property.

The O'Donnell family acquired the mansion on Vico Road, Killiney, through an Isle of Man-registered company called Vico Limited.

Under this arrangement, the court heard, the couple were entitled to live in the house with their adult children.

But earlier this year, a bank-appointed receiver was given a court order to take possession of Gorse Hill by 1 February, against the wishes of the O'Donnell children.

The adult children left the mansion in accordance with the court order, but on 2 March, the couple's eldest son, Blake O'Donnell, told a court in Dublin that his parents were now occupying the property.

At Wednesday's Court of Appeal hearing, the judge ruled Vico Limited's possession of the house ended on 2 March, following a Supreme Court decision on the earlier legal action taken by the O'Donnell children.

She said the bank had made a strong case that the right of residence of the O'Donnells did not extend past this date.

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