This is new. Masterson et al said quite clearly in their book that St Luke’s was bought in 1988 for £57,000. £25,000 of this amount came from £1,000 donations from 25 individuals, “with further contributions over a five-year period”. The rest was mortgaged, with “the repayments paid through the constituency organisation’s own bank”. Another £50,000 was then spent on renovations.
The house was “assigned to five trustees”. They are not named in the book, but we now know they were Mr. Des Richardson, Mr. James Keane, Mr. Patrick Reilly, Mr. Joe Burke and Mr Tim Collins.
But the story is contradicted by Collins.
Q. 181 And where did that money come from?
A. By that, that money came from about 24 or 25 people that got together to buy it.
Meaning that the entirety of the house was paid for by those people. He also says the house was falling into the Liffey, though surely he meant the Tolka. Collins can’t remember it there was any debt on the house they bought it (Q207). O’Neill pushes him, asking again. Collins restates that 25 people paid for the house.
Masterson was quite clear that the house was vested with the Dublin Central Fianna Fail organisation. One of the legal documents drawn up says:
The trustees hereby acknowledge … I will read it as it is written here. “Are not to hold the property for their own absolute use and benefit but upon the trust here and after declared and as directed by the settlors of the trust the St. Luke’s club.” (Q219)
Club? What club? Collins is just as puzzled as I am.
The Tribunal have also been unable to find any evidence that there was any outstanding debt on the property.