THE landlord of an iconic Dublin pub, Quinns of Drumcondra, has virtually barricaded himself into his premises after IBRC -- the former Anglo Irish Bank -- tried to seize control of it.
Eoin Quinlan has been living in the upstairs office of his pub ever since agents for the bank mounted a dawn raid on his premises last Thursday. He said the bank claims that he owes it €250,000 in rent arrears, which he disputes.
The pub is one of several licensed premises of which the bank tried to take control last week. They were once owned by the bankrupt Sean Quinn and his family but are now under the control of the nationalised bank now known as Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).
The family and the bank are currently locked in battle over a disputed €2.3bn debt. But on Thursday morning, the battleground quietly switched from the courtroom to the pubs the family once owned.
In a dawn raid, the bank organised agents to take back control of several Dublin pubs for alleged non-payment of rent. They included The Cat & Cage in Drumcondra and Messrs Maguire on Burgh Quay. However, the bank got more than it bargained for when its agents arrived at Mr Quinlan's premises.
Mr Quinlan said he was tipped off that IBRC would try and seize the pub, so he stayed in the premises overnight. At 5.40am, he heard the front door shattering.
"I opened the door to be confronted by two locksmiths, a glazier, three bank officials and three to four security men. I denied them entry," he said.
As they tried to break down the door, he dialled 999. The gardai arrived. According to Mr Quinlan, the gardai eventually decided that it was a civil dispute as IBRC had no court order but simply a demand letter.
Mr Quinlan said this weekend that he had been paying €30,000 a month in rent to IBRC after it took over control of the pub from the Quinn family. He commissioned his own professional assessment of the current market value for the lease, which put the going rent at €15,000 a month.
Mr Quinlan began paying the lower rent to IBRC and continued paying for the past nine months.
On October 31, he was handed a letter from IBRC, saying he was €250,000 in arrears. He was given a deadline of 5pm last Wednesday to pay. Mr Quinlan said he was willing to meet IBRC to work out a deal. He said he does not have €250,000 and that he had been paying twice the market value of the lease.
At Quinns of Drumcondra yesterday, punters in the popular bar were enjoying a pint as usual. The stress and strain of fending off attempts by an IBRC crew of bank officials, security guards, locksmiths and glaziers who attempted to get into pub in the early hours of last Thursday morning clearly showed on Mr Quinlan's face.
He said his family had been running the pub for over two decades. Quinns is a hub of hospitality on All-Ireland days and for concerts in nearby Croke Park. The lease of the pub was originally taken by his father-in-law, Phil Ryan, from Sean Quinn.
Eoin Quinlan took over from his father-in-law: "It was tough after the crash. But you could always sit down and do a deal with Sean Quinn. He was a proper professional -- a decent businessman who would never get up from the table without doing a deal."
He now fears that IBRC will go for an eviction order.
"This is a profitable pub, one of the best pubs on the northside of Dublin. They have a vendetta against Sean Quinn; I am just a casualty," he said.
IBRC refused to comment last night. However, it is understood that the bank took the action against a number of pubs after considerable arrears in rent had built up.
The pubs were part of Quinn International Property Management, which manages the property portfolio once owned by the Quinns and is now controlled by the bank.
On November 8, it appointed agents to take back control of Messers Maguire, The Cat & Cage and Quinns.
Yesterday, Messers Maguire was operating normally.
However, a notice in the window of The Cat & Cage in Drumcondra said the pub was closed "due to essential maintenance" and would re-open on Monday.