Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Woman in attempt to overturn former IRA hunger striker's bankruptcy

A woman who wants developer Thomas McFeely declared bankrupt in the Republic of Ireland is trying to overturn his bankruptcy in the UK.

The former IRA hunger striker turned developer, who was sued by Dublin City Council in other proceedings over fire safety issues at his Priory Hall apartment complex in Donaghmede, was declared a bankrupt in London last Friday.

Teresa McGuinness, from Rush, Co Dublin, had been seeking to have him declared bankrupt here.

Yesterday, she told the High Court in Dublin that she planned to have McFeely's UK bankruptcy decision overturned.

Bankrupts in the Republic must wait a minimum of five years before going into business again, compared to just one year in the UK.

Ms McGuinness sought to have McFeely declared bankrupt in Ireland over the failure to pay her an award made to her in 2009 against his company Coalport Ltd.

Ms McGuinness sued the firm for attempting to sell her a house in Balrothery, north Co Dublin, that had serious structural defects.

She was awarded €103,000 in damages.

She also claims she is owed an additional €200,000 in costs arising from her 2009 court action.

McFeely's counsel Martin Hayden told the court the UK bankruptcy ruling came as a surprise as his client only learned of it after the London court made the decision last Friday.

Mr Hayden said they now had no instructions from McFeely.

Ms McGuinness said she would be seeking a stay on the Dublin bankruptcy proceedings as she was actively seeking to have the UK bankruptcy overturned.

The application to have the Priory Hall developer declared bankrupt in Ireland was adjourned to April 16. Speaking outside the court, Ms McGuinness's solicitor Gerry Hughes estimated it would cost at least £10,000 in legal fees for her to apply to overturn the UK bankruptcy decision, which does not include other costs such as accommodation and travel. "We are going across the water," Ms McGuinness said. "We are absolutely going to pursue this."

Speaking after the case was adjourned, the Priory Hall residents committee last night said that if McFeely was successfully declared bankrupt in the UK the bankruptcy would be discharged within 12 months and he would be free to start over again.

"The residents of Priory Hall will not have that luxury," the committee said, adding that they were writing to TDs and Justice Minister Alan Shatter to ask the Government to intervene on behalf of the residents.

The 25 residents evacuated from Priory Hall could lose out in any UK bankruptcy as they are unsecured creditors of Coalport.

They would be prevented from seeking to seize any of McFeely's personal assets, unless they can make him personally liable for the company's debts.

The developer's UK bankruptcy petition was filed by English law firm Merriman White.

McFeely is joining a growing number of Irish debtors filing for bankruptcy in the UK.

McFeely is appealing a High Court ruling that he breached court orders and did not meet weekly targets for the completion of fire safety works at Priory Hall.

He is also appealing other orders, which have been put on stay pending his appeal, fining him €1m and jailing him for three months.

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