Judge questions the law as hundreds of Limerick repossessions loom

Judge Gerald Keys


Judge Gerald Keys

A Circuit Court judge, who is facing the prospect of hundreds of repossession cases, has said he is being put in a position where he has to make orders that will make people homeless and he does not “like that one bit”.

Judge Gerald Keys made his remarks during a hearing where Bank of Ireland were “effectively trying to evict a mother and her five children on to the street” because receivers for three financially distressed investors wanted to sell the property to a vulture fund.

The woman, who was present in Limerick Circuit court as her solicitor tried to block the move by the bank, sat quietly in the front row of the public gallery as counsel for Bank of Ireland Clare O’Driscoll BL said the original repossession case was almost six years old.

Unaware that her landlords were in financial difficulty, the woman received notice to leave the rented property in March 2013, but the Private Residence Tenancy Board (PRTB) ruled that the notice was invalid.

Several letters were sent to her by the receivers and the bank in the intervening period and in December 2014, she was again ordered to leave the property which is on the outskirts of Limerick city with the final notice issued in June 2015.

The PRTB issued proceedings to take possession of the home to sell it with immediate effect.

Judge Keys said that “effectively you want to evict this mother and her children out on to the street”.

Ms O’Driscoll, said that the rent of €675 per month had not been paid for a year.

However, the woman’s solicitor said that after she received the notice to vacate, she immediately sought alternative accommodation.

“Because of the proceedings issued she has been denied rent allowance and has been unable to pay her rent. She has been in touch with Focus Ireland, spoken to TDs and the local authority.

“The family is in a very vulnerable position. They can’t qualify for social housing as they are not homeless nor considered a priority. To become a priority, she has to thrown out on the street”.

However Judge Keys said that “it does not impress me that not even a fiver was paid in rent”.

Adjourning the matter to April 25, he said the court “was going to be confronted by hundreds of these case this year, or so we are told by the media and others.

“When I became a judge, I swore to apply the law. I may not like it or agree with it it and it may be unjust to me, but it is the law.

“It can only be changed by the people through their public representatives  but I am now being put in a position where I have to make orders that will make people homeless and I do not like that one bit.”

Judge Keys also ordered that the property be valued and that the bank outline a proper plan for its sale at the next hearing.

In a number of cases that followed at the Limerick court, possession orders were granted to Mars Capital Ireland for three properties in Limerick.