THE separated wife of convicted criminal John Gilligan told an appeal court today - Wednesday, February 6 - that she is surviving on a weekly allowance of €186.
Geraldine Gilligan, who lives at the Jessbrook Equestrian Centre, near Johnstownbridge, Co. Kildare, was appealing a refusal to grant Jobseekers Allowance, worth €186 per week, before Judge James O’Donohoe at Naas Circuit Court.
An unidentified Criminal Assets Bureau officer told the court that it was her decision to refuse the applications on the basis of non-disclosure of information.
“I was unable to fully determine her means and because this is taxpayers’ money we require verification when a claim for a social welfare payment is made,” she said.
The officer also said it was unclear if Ms. Gilligan received any income from a pub in Alicante, operated by her daughter Tracey.
Ms. Gilligan was also nominated on a Deed of Power of Attorney, which effectively gives her control of her daughter’s assets in the event of Tracey’s death.
Since then, Ms. Gilligan has been receiving an emergency allowance of €186, granted by a HSE Community Welfare Officer, which is being paid until the outcome of the appeal is known.
The court heard that up to 16 bank accounts in names of the Gilligan family existed in 1996 and ten of these related to the Jessbrook Centre.
Some €15m went through these accounts and barrister Genevieve Coonan representing the CAB, said some €250,000 of this money was unaccounted for.
Most of this money was withdrawn in July 1996.
Ms. Gilligan told her barrister Mairead Carey, in court, that most of the money that went through the accounts was used to pay for building work and materials as Jessbrook was constructed.
She added that while some of the accounts were in her name they were controlled by John Gilligan, who would ring her and instruct her to pay the money to various people.
She told the court she did not receive money for working in the pub and that the business is struggling financially.
She said some of the unaccounted money could be explained by withdrawals of €80,000 and €20,000 in July 1996 from an account at the Bank of Ireland in Lucan by Thomas Gilligan, brother of John Gilligan.
Ms. Gilligan said she still owes money and one builder alone is owed €80,000 by her. Ms. Gilligan added she drives a 1997 car and any money she has saved pays for motor insurance cover.
She added she did not have a copy of the DPOA and was not sure if her daughter has.
Judge O’Donohoe acknowledged that the State needs a satisfactory explanation about how the money was disposed.
He adjourned the case asking for a Notary in Spain to be contacted to provide a a copy of the DOPA. He also asked for accounts relating to the Alicante pub, known as The Judge’s Chambers.
- Paul O’Meara