A Fianna Fáil councillor managed to maintain control of farmland he lost to a vulture fund after his close friend bought it and allowed him to keep farming the land.
Yesterday The Ditch reported that Galway Fianna Fáil county councillor Séamus Walsh’s son built a house, without planning permission, on land that isn’t his but is rather owned by friend of his father’s, Michael Landy, who bought the land after it was repossessed.
The same friend also bought another site – once owned by Walsh senior but transferred to a vulture fund – and let the councillor continue to farm on it. Walsh refused to say what arrangement he has in place with his friend that allows him to keep farming the land he no longer legally owns.
‘Landy has had other dealings with the Walsh family’
Councillor Séamus Walsh in 2009 bought a five-hectare parcel of farmland in Farravaun, Oughterard, county Galway with a mortgage from Ulster Bank.
Allied Irish Banks in 2016 got a High Court judgment against Walsh and this was registered in the property’s folio.
Walsh defaulted on repayments of his Ulster Bank mortgage and the loan was transferred to vulture fund Promontoria in 2017.
Two years later, in 2019, the registered ownership of the land was transferred to Walsh’s close friend Michael Landy.
Both Walsh’s mortgage and the judgment against him were cancelled on the property’s folio, according to the Land Registry. It is unclear if the land was advertised on the open market in 2019.
Landy has had other dealings with the Walsh family.
Yesterday The Ditch reported that Walsh’s son, Thomas Walsh, illegally built a house on 20 hectares of land he previously owned and lost through bank receivership after it was sold to Landy in 2015.
Oughterard-man Séamus Walsh was first elected to Galway County Council in 1999 as an independent but joined Fianna Fáil in 2005. He is a planning consultant and farmer, according to his most recent annual ethics return submitted to the council earlier this year.
Walsh continues to use the land for farming purposes but has refused to comment on the agreement he has with Landy.