Receiver due back in High Court as occupation of salon goes on
A receiver acting on behalf of ACC Bank is due in the High Court again today (Tuesday) in a case in which a Wexfordman and his supporters have occupied a building in South Main Street, Wexford.
The receiver Shane McCarthy of KPMG obtained an ex-parte order in the court last Tuesday, seeking to restrain John Byrne of Coolballow from trespassing on the premises rented by Brash hairdressing salon, until Tuesday, November 22 when the High Court is expected to consider the matter again.
Mr. Byrne, who claims his wife Peggy is still the legal owner of the building, has been occupying the premises since the early hours of Thursday, November 10, and has cleared the ground floor of equipment, fittings and stock owned by Ray Doyle, the salon owner, placing them in commercial storage.
A copy of the court order was posted on a window last Wednesday following an unsuccessful attempt the previous day to serve it personally on Mr. Byrne and his wife Peggy by a representative of the receiver who arrived from Dublin and knocked on the door of the premises.
The court order warned that failure to comply could render the defendants or their agents liable to imprisonment and/or committal for the purpose of compelling them to obey the order.
On Friday, representatives of the receiver appeared with a locksmith and changed the locks on the property while Mr. Byrne remained inside. The gardai were called and gave the go-ahead to proceed after court documentation was produced.
When contacted by the Wexford People three days after the notice was posted, Mr. Byrne said he had not been served with the order although he had heard rumours about it.
'I have not been served with an order and no court or garda has contacted me to say anything about a court order' he said.
Mr. Byrne said he and his wife Peggy have instigated their own court proceedings, seeking to bring forward a plenary summons against ACC Bank and the receiver which has been with the High Court since 2015. The couple claim that the receiver was wrongly appointed by the bank.
'This is not a protest. We have taken possession of our own property. They can get an order from Barack Obama if they like. Until my case is heard in the High Court I'm not leaving this building,' he said.
Mr. Byrne said a receiver is supposed to report to the owners of a property every three months but claimed this has not been done.
He said he is now seeking a new tenant and will pay any rent into an account for the bank until 'this is sorted out'.
'There is a mortgage. The money has to be paid, I know that. I'm not a crook. But I'm not going to give this place up', he said.
The owner of Brash, Mr. Doyle ended his round-the-clock vigil outside the salon in the early hours of last Wednesday morning after Mr. Byrne removed the rest of the fittings and stored them upstairs on the first floor, but he continued to monitor the salon from the street during daytime hours.
Mr. Doyle had slept in his car on the Main Street from Thursday, November 10, to prevent stock and equipment being taken from the salon. Gardai were called to the scene around midnight on Tuesday night last when the contents were taken out by a large group of men who came to assist Mr. Byrne.
He said there was no point in him continuing to sleep in his car overnight because the contents had been removed, including the salon computer.
'I slept in my car for five nights to prevent my stuff being taken out but there's nothing left now. About 28 or 30 guys arrived and took the rest of the stuff out through the back fire escape,' said Mr. Doyle.
John Byrne said the salon contents are being stored in a first floor premises which he gave rent-free to the People's Support Centre with offices occupied by the Hub, Eirigí and People Before Profit.
He said a lot of different organisations were represented among the group who helped him remove the contents of the salon.
'Car-loads came from all over. They told me, we're your friend, we know the situation you're in.'
He said if Mr. Doyle wants his stuff, he can deal with the People's Support Centre.
Mr. Doyle said it is now between Mr. Byrne and the receiver.
'I'm locked in to a 25-year lease and if I walk away I still have to pay the rent,' he said.
'Before this I had no gripe with Mr. Byrne. I paid rent to him for four and a half years. For the past eighteen months I've been paying the receiver because that's the law of the land.'
'We're the innocent parties in a dispute between Mr. Byrne and the receiver. I'm still paying staff wages. They have mortgages and children. If I didn't pay them they would have to get other jobs and then I would have no staff.'
Mr. Doyle said he and his wife Stella are deeply appreciative of the support they have received from people in South Main Street. 'The support on the street has been incredible.'
'People have put up nasty things on Facebook about Mr. Byrne but it has nothing to do with us,' he said.
Stella Doyle posted a message on Facebook updating customers on 'the nightmare we have been living in...'
'We are utterly heartbroken... We are just doing everything by the book and trusting it will all end shortly. We will not be giving up!'.
Meanwhile, Mr. Byrne has been coming and going from the premises, ensuring that someone is inside the premises at all times.
The chairman of a Wexford branch of the Land League, Paul O'Hanlon contacted this newpaper, saying he wished to disassociate himself from the occupation of the building.
He said members of the Land League were involved in a protest in the building up to St. Patrick's Day 2015 before the appointment of a receiver to the property.
'But we are against what is going on there at the moment. I'm always up for a fight when it's up against a bank but I don't think the tactics being used are fair. Our support is with the hairdresser and his staff and their right to make a living' he said.