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Sunday 23 July 2017

Council to lose €860,000 as builder folds

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

A CITY council is facing an €860,000 loss in development levies after a major property company went into voluntary liquidation.

Galway City Council had been engaged in a lengthy legal battle with Harrmack Developments over the payment of levies owed to it.

Harrmack Developments was co-founded in 2002 by Stephen Harris (Harr) and Joe McNamara (Mack) -- who became known as the "Anglo Avenger" due to his parking of a cement mixer truck at the gates of Leinster House last year.

Mr McNamara left the company in 2006, but Mr Harris went on to become one of the biggest developers in Galway and owns the Twelve Hotel in Barna, Co Galway.

A city council spokeswoman confirmed that Harrmack Developments still owed it €468,389 in unpaid levies at Fionnuisce estate in Doughiska, Co Galway; and another €393,275 for a development of apartments at Fionnuisce, Co Galway, which were half-built.

Development levies are charged by councils to cover the cost of providing services such as roads, sewage treatment and water supplies to new estates.

The council said "legal advice was being sought" in relation to whether any of this money could be recovered now that Harrmack Developments had gone into voluntary liquidation with debts of €15.7m.

Among those owed money are the Revenue, the Department of Enterprise, Galway City Council and banks.

A company source said Harrmack Developments had stopped building work by 2008 and concentrated on trying to pay off its creditors.

Its projects included the redevelopment of the Twelve Hotel, which cost €20m. Mr Harris (46) and his wife Marie (44) are the two directors of Harrmack Developments.

In 2009, Bank of Ireland secured a judgment for almost €2.9m against Mr Harris and a €1.45m judgment against Bernard McKeon, a former senior planner with Galway City Council who left his job to start working with Mr Harris on several projects

Mr Harris is listed in company records as the director of 20 companies.

Earlier this year, NAMA appointed a receiver to one of his companies, Harrko, after taking over loans advanced to the company by Anglo Irish Bank.

George Maloney of Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon, who has been appointed as liquidator of Harrmack Developments, could not be contacted for comment. Mr Harris also could not be contacted for comment.

Irish Independent

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