auction | 

Wexford family make last-ditch plea to stop family farm being sold off by ‘vulture fund’

The family are asking people not to bid on the Killurin property when it comes up for auction on Wednesday

Paddy Kinsella on his farmland at Killurin which is to be auctioned on Wednesday.

Pádraig ByrneWexford People

A Wexford family are making a last-ditch attempt to stop their family farm in Killurin from being sold off by a so-called ‘vulture fund’ by asking people not to bid on it when it comes up for auction on Wednesday.

The 82 acres of agricultural land and units at Corlican, Killurin is set to go under the hammer at Wilsons Auctions on Wednesday with a guide price of €900,000, but the Kinsella family have made a public appeal, stating: “We the Kinsella family explicitly ask any interested parties not to bid on our land at this auction or any other as it is done so without our consent.”

The background of the story goes back to 2007 when Mr Paddy Kinsella took out a loan with Ulster Bank to purchase a landmark Wexford service station and retail premises at Rocklands. As the full weight of the recession was felt, Paddy “had issues paying the loan” and entered into negotiations with Ulster Bank over the debt of some €2 million.

"I bought when the recession hit," Paddy explains. “If I'd have bought a month later, I'd have got Rocklands for half the price. That put me on the back foot straight away.”

Initially, Paddy felt Ulster Bank were “receptive”, but claims “they had an inflated value of the property. That was the problem. They valued it at double what they got when they actually sold it.”

According to the Kinsella family, the loan was subsequently purchased by so-called “vulture fund’ Promontoria Aran Ltd as part of a compiled loan book with other loans. A receiver was appointed and following years of negotiation Paddy agreed to hand over the deeds of Rocklands Service Station against the debt.

Speaking just days before the auction, Paddy’s son Paul Kinsella stated that in March of last year, the deeds of a home owned by a family member were handed over towards the loan and the family would also sell the farming land “in order to finalise entire loan as paid”.

Paul says that despite reaching an agreement in principle to sell the farm land to a local farmer in July of 2021, leaving the family home and outbuildings, in August of last year three men representing the receiver “arrived at the family home at 5 a.m. and changed all the locks on all the buildings”. At this point, Paul says that “legal deadlines and fees were put in place that were impossible to meet in order to close the deal with the new buyer”.

"In February 2022 we lodged a complaint to the financial ombudsman about our case and we are still awaiting word,” he said.

For his part, Paddy Kinsella said: "I was willing to sell everything. I just wanted a figure to settle and to keep my home and the shed building out here.”

After lengthy legal engagement with the agents appointed by the receiver, last month the Kinsella family learned from a friend that their land and home-place was listed for public auction online.

"On seeing this we tried numerous times to engage with the receiver but they never replied to any of our correspondence via our solicitors,” Paul said.

The whole ordeal has had a devastating impact on Paddy.

“This whole thing is nearly killing me,” said Paddy. “I’m living on my own out here and it’s very hard when you've nobody to confide in.

"Honest to God, if I’d murdered somebody I'd have been treated better. I've nothing left at this stage. I tried to pay back every penny that I owed to people out of the shop.”

Paul says that the family are now calling for a “fair, legally mediated discussion with the vulture fund where we can agree on terms to solve everything. We have received threatening phone calls, demanding letters, had locks changed at night – all when having negotiated deals.”

In the meantime, the family are publicly asking that people take a stand and refrain from bidding on the family lands as they go under the hammer on Wednesday, September 14.

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