Thursday 22 August 2019

'It was bleak and life changing' - Finbarr Filan on bankruptcy, guilt and his Westlife brother, Shane

Finbarr and Shane Filan
Finbarr and Shane Filan

Mary McDonnell

THE brother of ex-Westlife star, Shane Filan has revealed he wept the day the singer packed up his family home and left lreland after the pair were left with nothing when the housing bubble burst.

Shafin Developments, the property company the brothers established together, went bust in 2012.

The singer, faced with a bill of €23m, was declared bankrupt. His brother Finbarr has revealed he was declared bankrupt last Monday to the tune of €15 million.  

In a column in the Sunday Business Post, the Sligo businessman, who is chair of the Sligo Business Improvement District, said “guilt, fear and denial” plagued him in the wake of his brother’s bankruptcy.

He said he cried in his car after he waved goodbye to Shane at the airport around Christmastime in 2012.

He wrote: “When it came, the drop was bleak and life-changing. The worst day for me was spent packing up Shane’s family house and driving him to the plane in Knock. He was on his way to London that day to start the process of rebuilding his life after being declared bankrupt himself. The guilt I felt at the part I played in him losing his home almost overwhelmed me.

Shane Filan, formerly of Westlife.
Shane Filan, formerly of Westlife.

“All day I cleaned and packed and moved and boxed without a break – trying to keep all thoughts and feelings at bay. After his plane took off, I sat in my car in the car park and wept for the first time and stayed there until I was sure I could safely go home.”

Mr Filan told how he and his brother never saw the crash coming. They took out their first development loan in 2003 and soon the business partners and brothers were going “too fast too soon”.

He writes in the Sunday Business Post: “Hindsight is never there when you are I the middle of an impending calamity.”

Shane Filan has since launched his third solo album and purchased a new home in Sligo in 2014, two years after declaring bankruptcy.

He previously told the Irish Independent: "There were a few very difficult years where I was quite worried and scared. But you take yourself out of the bubble, and you realise it's happening all over the world, especially in Ireland."

Finbarr, meanwhile, is urging others to come to terms with their own financial troubles after he grappled with the “fear” that follows going broke."

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