Sunday 11 December 2016

Ex-garda has defied odds so far but obstacles lie ahead

John Mulligan and George Garvey

Published 14/06/2011 | 05:00

RICHARD Quirke has waited nearly 20 years to build a casino.

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A native of Thurles, Co Tipperary, Mr Quirke is a former garda. However, he quickly abandoned that career in favour of a more lucrative one in slot machines. In 1992, he opened his Dr Quirkey's Goodtime Emporium on Dublin's Upper O'Connell Street.

Accounts for the company that controls his Dr Quirkey's Goodtime Emporium on O'Connell Street -- Dublin Pool and Juke Box Co Ltd -- show the business has accumulated profits of almost €17m.

In 2007, Richard Quirke and his wife Ann, who is also a director of the firm, were paid a combined €3m -- twice what they received a year earlier.

But the demise of the Celtic Tiger has definitely clipped the emporium's claws. Latest accounts for Dublin Pool and Juke Box, for the 12 months to the end of June 2010, show a drastic deterioration in its financial performance.

Its gross profit slumped 37pc to €5.7m. Its operating profit fell 60pc to €1.85m. Still though, they're very respectable profits for a country in recession.

Those profits have also enabled Mr and Mrs Quirke to be paid the kinds of wages that most workers can only dream of. In the last financial year, including contributions to their pensions, they received €1m.

The Quirkes' wealth isn't wholly predicated on just one asset. Filings at the Companies Registration Office list a swathe of properties in the city centre and north Dublin that have been owned by the family and used as mortgage security.

Among them a major development on North Brunswick Street, as well as properties in Phisboro Road and Rush, to the north of the city.

Their home, Cortina, in Brennanstown, Carrickmines, was bought for just over €5m.

Mr Quirke also reportedly made about €30m selling the controversial Carlton Cinema site to developer Joe O'Reilly.

Mr Quirke was involved in a bitter legal dispute with Dublin City Council from 2001 to 2004. The row started when the local authority slapped a compulsory purchase order on the 2.5-acre site of the former Carlton Cinema on Upper O'Connell Street.

The site had been assembled over several years by a consortium, which included Mr Quirke. It planned to develop a 'Millennium Mall' on the site, which would link up with the ILAC shopping mall.

Undeveloped

However, Dublin City Council argued that the consortium lacked the wherewithal to develop the site. In 2004, the High Court was told that Mr Quirke had withdrawn from the consortium and the site still remains undeveloped seven years later.

In 2007, Mr Quirke was back in the High Court when he was ordered by Ms Justice Caroline Kelly not to eject tenants from a number of Moore Street properties. The judge also ordered him not to interfere with supplies of electricity or water to the properties, one of which was being used as a mosque.

Notoriously publicity-shy, Mr Quirke is the antithesis in that regard to his sons Wesley and Andy. But some sources suspect that he's capable of playing the appropriate card to suit any given situation. Whether he comes up trumps this time around is still not a gamble many would be willing to take.

He may have defied the odds to get the project this far, but he still faces obstacles. He needs to get the law changed before he can build the casino, existing race courses and dog tracks are struggling and the country is awash with hotels.

All of which means that persuading banks or investors to bankroll the project could prove much more difficult than securing An Bord Pleanala's approval.

Irish Independent

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