Landlord forgot to tell Mahon about gift of house

A MANCHESTER businessman has admitted forgetting to inform the Mahon Tribunal that he had left Bertie Ahern a house in Dublin because he didn’t believe the document that bequeathed the property to him was a will.

Michael Wall told the planning inquiry yesterday that the document, which left a house in Beresford Avenue, Drumcondra to Mr Ahern, was not a will “in my way of thinking”.

He explained that he had not regarded it as a will because its effect had lapsed in July 1997 when Mr Ahern agreed to buy the property from him for £180,000.

“I never particularly classed it as a will. When I was asked two years ago about a will, it didn’t mean nothing to me. Furthermore, it was a temporary kind of thing. When Mr Ahern bought the house it was done and dusted,” he said.

However, Tribunal member, Judge Gerard Keys, commented that a man of the witness’s standing seemed astute enough to have known that he should have informed the inquiry about the document when it specifically sought such information in 2006.

It read: “I give, devise and bequeath my property at 44 Beresford Avenue, Drumcondra to my good friend, Bertie Ahern TD for his own use and benefit absolutely.”

The will also provided that the house would be given to Mr Ahern’s two daughters, Georgina and Cecilia, in the case that he had pre-deceased Mr Wall.

The will was drafted in June 1996 without Mr Ahern’s knowledge because Mr Wall wanted to ensure that his friend “had a roof over his head”. He had also wished to recognise the effort that Mr Ahern had put into the property and did not want a situation where the TD could be kicked out overnight in case anything happened to himself.

Asked by Tribunal barrister, Henry Murphy SC why he hadn’t simply made a will which gave Mr Ahern an option to buy the property, Mr Wall replied that he had “umpteen” options.

“I could have left it to the Sisters of Charity. I could have left it to my auntie in Timbuktu. I did what I wanted to do and I hope I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Mr Wall pointed out that he had suffered a near fatal hit-and-run accident a short time before and was anxious to put his affairs in order.

Questioned about his motive for leaving the property to Mr Ahern and his daughters, Mr Wall observed: “It was something I’d done and that was it. I have no further explanation whatsoever on it.”

Judge Keys wondered if the witness had an explanation which he didn’t wish to reveal to the tribunal as he was puzzled why Mr Wall subsequently changed his mind and decided to sell the property to Mr Ahern.

Mr Wall replied that the will was “a temporary type of message in my way to protect him”.

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