As solicitor Brian O’Donnell and his wife Mary continue their legal challenge to their bankruptcy, two of their children have taken to the airwaves to tell how they, too, will continue to battle to save the prestigious Dublin home at the centre of last week’s blockade.
Blaise and Blake O’Donnell hit out at the legal system and said the banks will not be “reasonable” until legislation is put in place to make them reasonable.
“The bank want us to walk away quietly with head hung low and lurk out the backdoor,” said Blaise O’Donnell. “I’m sorry, we don’t believe we are wrong. We believe that we are right and we are bringing these cases forward and unfortunately they have picked the wrong people.”
Her brother said the publicity their family’s plight had generated had served to shed a light on the struggle faced by many other homeowners around the country facing repossession.
“It’s done a lot of good, what’s happened last week, because repossessions are front and centre,” said Mr O’Donnell. “Nothing has really been done about it for years.”
In the interview with Newstalk radio, the siblings accepted that people would not be sympathetic to their plight.
However, Ms O’Donnell asked listeners: “Are we not a family? Is that not a question that needs to be asked? There are six people involved in this so while the house is nice, it’s a nice area...”
She said she understood the house was “lovely” — “We are never going to deny that fact” — but said the image of a “gilded lifestyle” was not true.
“Our parents were never interested in us having everything handed to us,” she said. “There is none of this airs and graces and privilege. It just isn’t how we were,” she said.
Her brother said: “The legal processes are exactly the same that apply to us, that apply to everyone else. The only difference is that this is a big house and it is getting media attention, which is a good thing, I think, because it lets people know what is coming down the tracks for them. And it is coming.”
He questioned how the banks treated his family.
“I have seen the correspondence between himself [their father, Brian O’Donnell] and the bank... going back to 2008,” said Mr O’Donnell. “I can see that he was trying to make accommodations with them, trying to get some negotiation with them. But they weren’t interested in negotiating ever. All they were interested in doing was stringing our family along.
“Basically they wanted to enforce, as quickly and brutally as possible. My father had to deal with an awful lot of phonecalls like, during the day, on the weekend, constantly. An awful lot of people aren’t able to take that kind of pressure and end it.”
Ms O’Donnell said people need to remember that all the onus is put on the borrowers.
“Where are the lenders? I would like to hear from them. I would like to hear from these bankers,” she said.
Her brother added: “They are out at the Oireachtas committee saying they made mistakes, but none of them are admitting to any mistakes when it comes to sitting down with borrowers at a table and saying: ‘How are we going to sort this mess out’.
“I’d just like to make the point that there is a difference between morality and law. Just because a court makes a determination doesn’t mean that what the other side has done is morally right.”
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