The landlord evicted from his luxury 2.2 million euro home on one of Ireland's most exclusive enclaves has claimed he could have done a deal with his lenders.
Bailiffs forced Brendan Kelly, 71, and his wife Asta, 63, from their five-bedroom detached house in St Matthias Wood, an elite gated community in salubrious Killiney, south Dublin.
Mr Kelly, a qualified accountant who, along with his wife, ran retail stores in a wealthy German holiday resort, said his finances had improved in the last two or three weeks, but he refused to disclose details about his property portfolio, income or the circumstances leading to the eviction.
Despite his vocal demonstrations, captured on video and watched by tens of thousands after being posted on YouTube, about being the victim of a 19th century-style Irish eviction, Mr Kelly refused to talk about his own property investments.
Property records show both he and his wife also owned two apartments in Simmonscourt Castle, in well-heeled Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, and the award-winning south Dublin development Ballintyre Hall, in Ballinteer.
Mr Kelly said he bought his family home in Killiney - alongside some of Ireland's richest people - in 2002, taking out a mortgage with the failed Irish Nationwide building society, now part of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC). The property was valued at 3.75 million euro when they bought it with the help of a two million euro mortgage. It is now on the market with an asking price of 2.2 million euro.
The couple vowed to maintain a protest outside their home where they have set up a makeshift camp.
Mr Kelly admits he and his German-born wife, who have no children, overstretched themselves at the time but said many others did likewise. Originally from Co Sligo, Mr Kelly said he was not 100% sure about when he first went into arrears but thought it may have been three years ago in 2009. Nor could he say exactly what date the repossession order was served on the house but he thought it was in the middle of 2010.
Mr Kelly said he spoke to IBRC the day before the eviction and asked them to postpone it. "I asked them to do the right thing, to postpone this eviction and meet Asta and myself to discuss a way forward. My finances had improved over the last two to three weeks and I can document that. I had a lengthy phone call with them, they refused point blank and said this eviction was going ahead and they refused to meet us." IBRC said a full legal process had been followed before the eviction.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said he was very saddened to see the couple put out of their home. "They live in my constituency. They hadn't been in contact with me before yesterday but I am making arrangements through my constituency office to talk to them," he said. Mr Gilmore added: "I think it underlines the priority that the Government is giving to dealing with the mortgage issue. Both the Taoiseach and I have made it very clear that we want the difficulties that householders are having with repaying their mortgages that we want that dealt with as a priority. This is something we don't want to see happening at all."