Ballinahown businessman Noel O’Gara has hit out at a report in a national newspaper, which centred around claims that he had taken possession of a home in Rathgar which he did not own, describing it as “malicious and misleading”.
The home in question, No 5 Alexander Terrace in Rathgar, Dublin, became empty upon the death of its owner three years ago.
Following a newspaper advertisement from the Chief State Solicitor inviting anyone “interested in the estate” to come forward, Mr O’Gara says he was alerted to his interest as the owner of the freehold and repossessed the property.
The article, which Mr O’Gara has blasted as “damaging”, drew attention to accusations from neighbours and a local Labour party councillor that he had “blustered” his way into a house worth an estimated €1 million.
Mr O’Gara confirmed to the Advertiser yesterday that he has changed the locks of the house and has started works at the property; however, he argued that he is well within his rights as the owner of the freehold.
“I own the freehold of the premises, which was abandoned when the gentleman who held the lease deed died over three years ago. It had been left derelict, with pigeons flying through the roof and damaging neighbouring properties. As the person who owns the freehold, I have the right to repossess it if it is abandoned.
“I only did what I am entitled to do.”
In spite of claims that neighbours were “baffled” by Mr O’Gara’s claim on the property, and that a ground rent landlord would have no real claim to the property until the end of a lease that is likely to be 999 years long, the Athlone businessman says that his right to possess the property is written into the lease.
“I have a legitimate legal interest. It is written into the lease that the freehold owner can repossess the property if it is left derelict,” he said.
Residents who were upset by Mr O’Gara’s actions and reported him to Gardai were reportedly told it was a civil matter.
It is not the first time that Mr O’Gara has become embroiled in controversy regarding his claim to a property.
In 2006 he locked the gates of Dartmouth Square in Ranelagh, Dublin after he bough the square for around €10,000.
To the outrage of local residents, the park remained closed to the public for more than two years, following unsuccessful attempts by Mr O’Gara to establish a tile showroom and an affordable car park on the site.
In recent months, however, he made an agreement with a local resident to make the park available to the public until the end of the year.