Cork couple prepared to leave city property bought by fund 'next year'

By Ann O'Loughlin

A couple are prepared to leave a Cork property acquired by a fund and return to the Netherlands by the end of March next year, the High Court has heard.

Colm O'Nuanain and Melanie Mook (pictured below at a previous court appearance) have been living in and running a coffee shop/bed and breakfast business from the property in Barrack Street, Cork, for the last four years.

It was bought by Targeted Investment Opportunities (TIO) who sought vacant possession. TIO claimed the couple had not paid rent to them or the previous owners.

Last July, the court heard they were to remain on until this month to allow for negotiations between the fund whereby the couple might buy the property. Ms Mook was also pregnant and she and her partner were in court today with their two-month-old baby.

Mr O'Nuanain told the court they had sought to buy the property and were willing to offer €165,000 for it, but the fund had refused to say how much it would be looking for it.

Counsel for TIO, Nevan Powell, said this was because his client had not got access to the property for its valuer. Once a valuation took place, the couple were free to seek to purchase it.

Mr O'Nuanain said they had allowed access and Mr Powell agreed this was so following an order for an inspection under health and safety grounds.

At the suggestion of Mr Justice Paul Gilligan, he said they would allow the valuer unfettered access but did not want large numbers of people visiting them home to view it once it was put up for sale.

He said they had now decided to return to his partner's native Netherlands as their last option. They were now out of business and unable to find alternative accommodation. They were "up against the wall", he said.

He was prepared to undertake to the court to leave by March 31 and they had their tickets to the Netherlands bought.

The judge adjourned the matter to the end of November to allow TIO take instructions about that proposed undertaking.

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