Lady’s €500k gift to Limerick animal charity ends up in High Court

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

Trustees of the LSPCA have issued High Court proceedings against Limerick Animal Welfare
ONE LIMERICK animal charity has issued High Court proceedings against another over a €500,000 bequest, the Limerick Leader has learned.

ONE LIMERICK animal charity has issued High Court proceedings against another over a €500,000 bequest, the Limerick Leader has learned.

Following the death of Elizabeth Burke, originally from Elm Park, Ennis Road, in October 2011 it was discovered that she requested the sizeable sum go to the Limerick branch of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

However, no such branch exists.

The matter was referred to the Commissioners for Charitable Donations and Bequests to decide who should get the money. The law states that in such cases, the money has to go to the charity doing the closest kind of work to that identified by the person donating money.

They were advised that there were two animal welfare organisations in the area – Limerick Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LSPCA) and Limerick Animal Welfare.

The commissioners, who include three High Court judges and a retired Supreme Court judge, decided the woman wished the money to go to animal welfare organisations in Limerick and so the money should be divided between the LSPCA and Limerick Animal Welfare.

This was made public in early 2013.

It is understood that the LSPCA contend they are the successors of the Limerick branch of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and should get all of the bequeath of €500,000, or a larger allocation than Limerick Animal Welfare.

The four plaintiffs in the High Court case are listed as Eugene Hayes, James O’Mahoney, Joseph Murphy and Willie O’Dea – at least two are known to be trustees of the LSPCA, including the Limerick TD. They are all represented by Leahy & Partners.

The defendants are listed as Limerick Animal Welfare; John McCarthy and Brendan Murtagh of Liston & Company.

The Dublin-based solicitors firm represented the late Ms Burke, with an address at 70 Ailesbury Road, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, and originally from the Ennis Road, Limerick. Her death notice asked mourners to make a donation, if they wished, to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Spokespersons for the LSPCA and Limerick Animal Welfare declined to comment this week. Limerick Animal Welfare said they were advised by their solicitors not to speak to the media.

When the Commissioners for Charitable Donations and Bequests first made their announcement in 2013 that the half a million would be divided, Marion Fitzgibbon, chairperson of Limerick Animal Welfare, said: “Whoever this wonderful lady was, we’ll be praying for her. This is the biggest ever donation from an individual made to Limerick Animal Welfare.”

The LSPCA said at the time it is in “ongoing discussions” with its legal representatives about monies bequested.

The case titled Hayes & Others v McCarthy & Others first appeared on a High Court list on December 2, 2014. It was up again on January 13 and was adjourned until February 10.

Ms Burke is a former owner of Stackallen Stud in Meath and left an estate valued at €12,309,728. She was a fan of the late Hollywood star Paul Newman and left €7m to Barretstown in Kildare, a children’s charity Newman set up in 1994.