Judge orders jailing of two men at centre of repossession case in Clare

A judge today ordered the jailing of two men for their contempt of court concerning the Bank of Ireland’s attempts to repossess a home near Corofin in Co Clare.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Patrick Meghen ordered the committal to prison of Tommy Collins (46) of Dysart, Corofin and member of the Anti-Eviction Task Force, Brian McCarthy of Tralee, Co Kerry over their contempt of court.

In the long running court saga, Judge Meghen ordered the jailing of the two following an application from the Bank of Ireland for the committal to prison of the pair.

Tommy Collins at previous court sitting

Judge Meghen told Mr McCarthy that he would be released from prison when he purges his contempt.

Counsel for Bank of Ireland, Michael Collins SC said that the last payment made by Tommy Collins on the two loans totalling €172,000 in relation to the Dysart property was €100 in 2008.

Michael Collins said that Tommy Collins, assisted by Mr McCarthy, has refused the vacate the property since the Bank of Ireland obtained a re-possession order for the property in 2012.

Tommy Collins did not show up in court and Gardai secured a warrant from the court to locate him and bring him to Limerick prison.

At Ennis Courthouse there was a large Garda presence as members of the Anti-Eviction Task Force were prevented from attending the court for the 50 minute long court hearing.

Around 30 Gardai were present in the foyer of the courthouse and the court room along with manning the front and back entrances.

Mr McCarthy was brought into court by two Gardai and had to be manhandled into the dock of the court when he resisted.

Brian McCarthy at a previous court sitting

He told the court - where there were eight Gardai present - that what was going on was “outrageous”.

Mr McCarthy said:

“This is about the protection of banks at all costs. It is outrageous what is going on and everyone here is aiding and abetting it.”

Mr McCarthy told the court that Tommy Collins was not in court because he was in fear of his life.

"He can’t deal with the intimidation outside the door and he is not coming in. He is a very vulnerable individual”.

Mr McCarthy told Judge Meghen that he had no jurisdiction to hear the case as he had not produced his declaration.

Judge Meghen said that this was “a nonsensical position to take”.

Mr McCarthy stood in the dock for the duration of the 50 minute hearing with his back to Judge Meghen.

When asked by Judge Meghen towards the end of the hearing if he wished to respond to the submissions made by counsel for Bank of Ireland, Michael Collins SC, Mr McCarthy repeated that the judge didn’t have the jurisdiction to hear the case.

In response, Judge Meghen said:

“Very well, I make an order imprisoning you and Tommy Collins and you are to be committed to Limerick prison until you purge your contempt.”

Earlier in court, Michael Collins said that the case has been before the court on a number of occasions since the Bank of Ireland obtained a re-possession order for the property in 2012.

Michael Collins said that the court has previously shown phenomenal patience with Mr Collins and Mr McCarthy and has given them every opportunity to avail of legal advice that was offered to them.

Michael Collins said that Tommy Collins had defaulted on two loans - one totalling €96,000 taken out in 2004 and a second loan of €76,000 taken out in 2006.

Tommy Collins had put his home, which he inherited, as security for the loans and the Bank eventually secured a repossession order in January 2012 after Mr Collins had defaulted.

The interest payments on the loans resulted in Tommy Collins’s indebtedness to the bank climbing to €244,000.

Three years ago, a filmed incident at the Collins property saw security men, mostly dressed in black, trying to conceal their identities by covering up most of their faces, were prevented from entering the home by members of the Anti-Eviction Taskforce.

The security men were accompanied by Gardai and the YouTube clip has been viewed more than 200,000 times.

In court, Michael Collins referred to a Facebook post by the Anti-Eviction Task Force calling for support at Ennis courthouse

It stated that “Following the highly publicised events in Roscommon, it is obvious that people have had enough and the support from normal people throughout the country has been phenomenal so let us not rest on our laurels and show the State and the particularly the judicial arm of the State that enough is enough.”

Michael Collins said that the post called on people “to show support against the criminal justice system and the criminal banksters”.

Michael Collins said that the post entitled ‘Faces of Corofin Eviction’ included two photos of circuit court judges, a partner in the legal firm representing the Bank of Ireland in the case and two counsel representing the bank

Michael Collins said that in October 2015, an attempt by the bank to carry out an execution order on the repossession could not be performed at the home because of crowd opposition.

Michael Collins said that the Execution Order was carried out in 2016 but that in May 2016, Tommy Collins re-entered the premises and notified the Gardai that he had done so.

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