7th November, 2002

You know the way most of us amble through life, doing what’s right, paying our taxes, road tax for our cars - when you know that only 13% of what is collected goes on our roads, but we pay it. We are a controlled race. Some experts maintain that over 700 years of colonial rule has made us this way. Go for a meal, order a fillet steak, very well done please, it comes out, and when it’s cut, it’s pink in the middle. Don’t make a fuss, eat what you can and leave the rest. How many things make you angry, but you shrug your shoulders and say, “Sure, we can’t change it,” and life goes on. Nobody ever told us that life was fair. Some will tell you that ‘life’s a bitch’, maybe they’re right. Life goes on and then something happens and you say, “This is wrong, I have to make a stand - say my piece”. Well, this day has come!

I bought my house in 1981, and everybody who has had a mortgage will know what it’s like, tough times, hard times, recession. But we struggle on to keep not just four walls, but a home. Our house was built by McInerney Builders in 1964. A few years after we moved in I began getting a solicitors letter from the UK seeking money for somebody known as Henry Hunt. Something about ground rent was mentioned. This went on for years, and I ignored them, and they stopped. I since learnt that Henry Hunt is a company owned by McInerney Builders. They build you a house, they sell you the house, but they own the ground under it!! I eventually paid off my mortgage last year, and it was a good feeling, but now my past has come back to haunt me! I got another letter from a different firm of solicitors in Dublin, representing Ellard Lipson. It seems that Ellard Lipson now owns my little plot. It did some research, it seems Henry Hunt (aka McInerney Builders) sold my ground rent to Ellard Lipson, in 1992 for 10. In fact, McInerney sold 3,200 ground rents for 32,000 to Ellard. Ellard Lipson is based in London and they’re giving me seven days to come up with hundred of euros or else I’ll be named in the press (I’ve done that now!). It could affect my credit rating (the financial people I deal with know my character). It goes on with pieces of subtle intimidation. I also discovered that almost all the army barracks and old garda stations pay ground rents. The landowners are people such as Lord what’s his name, the Duke of something else... the list goes on and on. I’ve just realised that as I’m sitting writing this piece that a man I’ve never met owns the piece of ground under me!!

I have a few questions for Ellard. Do you own the back and front garden also, and the hedges? If so, when was the last time you cut the grass, trimmed the hedges, fed the nestled birds in their nests within the hedges. So, one final message to McInerney Builders, Henry Hunt and Ellard Lipson - I’ve had enough. A man must stand up for what he believes in, and I believe this tax is something out of the 18th century, and shame on an Irish building company, which makes millions of euros from house buyers, such as us, selling our ground to agents in London. At the end of it all, what did we really achieve in 1922?

Good to see my old friend John Horgan going from strength to strength with his driving school. John captained the ‘Rockies’ to an historic treble many moons ago, when they won an unprecedented three All Ireland club championships, something that has never been equalled. He also won four All Ireland medals with the Cork Hurling team. Today the soccer fans of Man. Utd. have their blonde hero in a red shirt, but we had our own blonde hero in a red shirt, many moons ago, John Horgan. Continued success John, and thanks for the sporting memories.

Another horror story emerged last week. One word summed it up, “Letterfrack” What horrors were committed within those grey walls. Children’s bodies buried secretly in the woods. Good God it’s like something from the Balkins a few years ago. The Church leaders talk about forgiveness, a new start. I believe that the people who were abused are not seeking revenge, but justice. During the past number of years we have seen old Nazi’s wheeled into Court or on zimmer frames being led into court, and some people will say that they are old men and that it happened long ago. Rubbish!! The dead are entitled to justice, we owe it to them, they have nobody to speak for them - except us!! Thirteen year old John Curley died in agony in 1950. He died in Upton. John, they put you into care, but nobody cared for you or about you - but I saw your name carved in stone in Upton on a cold Winter’s day, and I took a photo of the headstone, which is in my office on the notice board. The dead cannot speak, but we can speak for them, and demand justice for children who died ‘in care’. What a word to use for, God only knows, what they went through. Perhaps God was on vacation, or had lost faith in mankind. I wouldn’t blame him.

Bye for now,
Michael O’Hanlon.

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