Couple whose firm provided security for Corrib gas pipeline declared bankrupt

business
James and Grainne Farrell were majority shareholders in BMSS, which supplied security personnel to Shell during the construction of the refinery at Bellanaboy
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Ann O'Loughlin

A couple whose company provided security for the Corrib gas pipeline in Co Mayo have been declared bankrupt by the High Court.

James and Grainne Farrell were majority (58 per cent) shareholders in Business Mobile Security Services Ltd (BMSS) which, among its services, supplied security personnel to Shell during the construction of the pipeline and refinery at Bellanaboy.

BMSS, of Tougher Business Park, Newhall, Naas, Co Kildare, which was also the holding company of Senaca, went into liquidation in July 2019.

Following a breakdown in relations, a dispute arose between the four shareholders in the company, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys said in a judgment published on Tuesday.

Arbitrator

As a result, an arbitrator made an award in February 2017 in favour of Martin O'Brien, one of the minority shareholders of the company. The other minority shareholder has apparently since died, the judge said.

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In June, 2017, in the High Court Mr O'Brien obtained a judgment for €315,000 as part of proceedings to enforce the arbitrators award, the judge said.

A judgment mortgage was subsequently registered over the Farrells' Kildare family home which was worth €385,000, he said.

While Ulster Bank held the first legal charge for €235,000 over it, Mr O'Brien ranked equally with another joint creditor for €286,000.

The Farrells applied for a protective certificate under personal insolvency legislation and were issued with one in Trim Circuit Court in November, 2017.

Bankruptcy proceedings

The following July, following the issue of bankruptcy proceedings, the High Court ruled the creditor was not entitled to issue the bankruptcy summons because the protective certificate had been renewed.

In July 2019, after a second protective certificate was issued but the proposals for meeting the debt was rejected at a creditors' meeting, the judge said. A week later BMSS went into liquidation and in separate High Court proceedings an order was made that it repay nearly €62,000 to the liquidator.

Last September, the Circuit Court in Kildare refused an application for a personal insolvency arrangement as it would be unfair to further delay the bankruptcy petition.

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While an appeal was lodged against the refusal of the personal insolvency arrangement, the High Court last month heard the application to make them bankrupt.

Mr Justice Humphreys refused to adjourn the bankruptcy application pending that appeal.

He said the Farrells had "ample opportunity" to explore the alternatives to bankruptcy. The fact there may be serious consequences for them - Mrs Farrell still lives in the family home - was not in itself a reason not to adjudicate them bankrupt.

The conditions had been satisfied for the making of an adjudication of bankruptcy, he said.

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