By Frank Connolly.
If you want to know a bit more about New Land League founder, Jerry Beades, just ask Frances Cullen.
She was made a widow when she and their three children in Coolock in north Dublin lost her husband, Gerry, three years ago.
He died just a few years after he fell, in January 2009, from ‘rotten scaffolding’ and suffered injuries which forced him out of work as a builder’s labourer, and according to his wife, to an early grave.
He worked for a construction company owned and run by Jerry Beades which was building apartments at the Richmond Avenue site in Fairview when the accident occurred. He was employed by Mendit Construction Ltd. and/or Jerry Beades Construction Ltd.
“Gerry fell 18 feet from the scaffolding. He was brought to James Hospital badly bruised and cut and with a back injury. After that he had constant back pain and couldn’t walk properly. He never worked again and was only 58 when he died suddenly a few years later from a blood clot in his bowel. He was in good health before he fell and needed to be to keep up work as a builder’s labourer”.
Another worker, a non-national, also fell from the scaffolding and suffered even more severe injuries.
In 2011 Gerry Cullen was awarded €39,150 in compensation for his injuries and loss of work.
He died nine months later, in February 2012, without seeing a cent as Beades had failed to comply with the terms of his company’s insurance policy, according to Frances Cullen.
In an affidavit to the court, Beades conceded that he had failed to notify the insurance company immediately after the accident, as required under the policy. He unsuccessfully tried to join Quinn Insurances to the action taken by solicitors for Cullen.
Cullen’s application for redundancy was also delayed after he failed to obtain any constructive co-operation from his employer, Beades.
Cullen managed to secure almost €4,000 in his redundancy entitlements after two appearances at the Employment Appeals Tribunal but never received the almost €40,000 compensation award. Contacted by Village, Beades blamed everyone but himself, including legal advisors, for the failure to notify his insurance company.
His firm had gone into liquidation soon after the accident and he now owes over €9.7m to Bank of Scotland and another €2.5m to Ulster Bank.
Frances Cullen insists that her husband had nothing but problems over the years with his boss.
“There were always problems with Beades. Gerry was often left waiting for his wages to be paid at the end of the week. When he was injured Beades never got in touch. When we took him to court he sat on the other side of the room and never even acknowledged us. He is not a nice man”, said Frances Cullen.
In 2013, summary judgment was granted against Beades for €3.5m to Ulster Bank. €1.3m had been taken out of an account with the assistance of a bank manager, as a result of “theft”. He says that he intends to bring a claim against the bank arising out of this alleged wrong.
Mr Beades further argued he did not accept claims by the bank that a signature on a loan document was his. He also argued that he had taken out the loans with Ulster Bank Ltd, an entity he said no longer exists having been wound up several years ago.
He was also pursued by Bank of Scotland for nearly €10m lent for property development. Commercial court judge, Peter Kelly, asked if Beades had received the monies at issue from Bank of Scotland – but received the response “I refuse to answer that question”.
Jerry Beades is now the self-appointed leader of the self-styled New Land League and fights for others in difficulty with the banks. Most recently he has been championing the oppressed residents of Gorse Hill, the ‘bog standard’ Killiney mansion occupied by solicitor, Brian O’Donnell and his family in their failed battle against receivers acting for Bank of Ireland.
O’Donnell owes over €70m to the bank and Beades has taken up the cause with his followers to highlight the hundreds of other distressed borrowers against whom eviction threats have been made up and down the country.
Whatever his band of merry men might think, Jerry Beades is no Michael Davitt, the Mayo man who founded the Land League in the late 19th Century, who was the antithesis of a dodgy builder who does not look after his workers and never accepts blame.
Beades was a member of the national executive of Fianna Fáil when the party under Bertie Ahern was leading the people over the economic cliff. After his own financial collapse he formed ‘Friends of Banking Ireland’ to highlight the lax regulation of the industry, including those to whom he owed millions.
He went on to lead the charge against public auctions of repossessed properties and has promoted himself as the latest saviour of the oppressed even though most viewing his recent antics on Vico Road and at the High Court – and how much he seemed to enjoy it all – might think the opposite. •