The landlord who owns houses dubbed ‘Covid party house’ and ‘party central’ in Cork City has lashed out at some of the long-term residents of the city’s university precinct who live nearby.
Fachtna O’Reilly spoke out in his first public comment since the High Court last week quashed an order against him.
“The first I knew about potential issues with regard to my property was when the Magazine Road Residents Association organised a picket of my home," he said in a statement to the.
“They did so in the presence of media photographers to optimise exposure.”
He said the order which arose from the case, and which has now been quashed, brought a further wave of publicity.
Mr O’Reilly was brought to court under environmental protection legislation last summer by two residents who live near UCC in relation to noise and disturbances at two of his properties during lockdown. He was ordered to take measures to reduce noise levels at the properties and he did so.
His solicitor, Eamon Murray, asked Judge Olann Kelleher last July not to impose the order, and simply to adjourn the case with no order to see how things would go. However, the judge imposed an order which meant that Mr O’Reilly faced a fine of up to €1,000 and/or a 12-month jail term for any breaches of the order.
Mr O’Reilly appealed to the High Court and, in a written judgement quashing the order, Mr Justice Charles Meenan said the District Court judge’s decision “was ultra vires, irrational, and void for certainty, and lacks jurisdiction on its face”.
Mr O’Reilly said it was “gratifying” that the High Court had quashed the order that he was responsible for noise made by his tenants. He said:
The District Court ruling meant, for example, that a property owner in Wexford could be imprisoned if his tenant located in Dublin turns on a stereo in breach of a court order, such as was made in this case.
“It is worth noting that the properties in question are located in the university quarter of the city and the vast majority of residents in this area are students.
“There are 35,000 students in Cork, and life in a busy urban area brings certain conveniences and inconveniences.
“I strongly disagree with the recent vitriolic criticism of our student population. These energetic young people are the future of our country, as were their predecessors who are now our doctors, scientists, and lawyers.”
Speaking after the quashing verdict, Mr O’Reilly said he was glad that he was in a position financially to mount a High Court challenge. He also that neighbours could communicate with him directly.
“Every resident living near my houses has my mobile number, and they phone me, and I’ll respond,” he said. “I have been doing so for 20 years — at all hours of the night and morning.”