News Irish News

Friday 20 April 2018

Belmayne boss shifts weights instead of bricks and mortar

FIGHTING FIT: Above, asked if he was working out, former developer Donal Caulfield gave journalist Ronald Quinlan the thumbs up and said, 'You gotta!'. Photo: David Conachy
FIGHTING FIT: Above, asked if he was working out, former developer Donal Caulfield gave journalist Ronald Quinlan the thumbs up and said, 'You gotta!'. Photo: David Conachy
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

HE'S the brash developer who put the 'sex' into property in the dying days of the boom with his billboard posters for Belmayne.

Five years on from the crash, however, the immortal image of a sultry blonde draped across the island counter of a bespoke kitchen being hand-fed strawberries by a swarthy male admirer would appear to be all that remains of the empire built by Donal Caulfield in the years of the Celtic Tiger.

But while the trophy home in Castleknock is long since gone, and with it the private jet, the Ferraris, the Porsches and the Lamborghinis, Mr Caulfield still has both his mind and body very much together.

Indeed, when the Sunday Independent bumped into the Wexford-born and UCD-educated civil engineer in Dublin's Merrion Square last week, he didn't even miss a beat when asked what he would say to those people who had paid big money to buy homes in Belmayne in north Dublin, a development which was left unfinished when the crash hit.

"I can't say anything on that. I have no comment to make on that. I'm working with the banks," Mr Caulfield said, explaining how his time and energy was still being taken up working with the receivers who had been appointed by his creditor banks.

Asked if he had given any thought to going back into business once that process was over, he added: "I haven't really thought about it. I'm just trying to work with the banks and trying to be as responsible as I can with all the different banks and that's all I can do at the moment. I'm not even thinking past that. I'm doing my best and trying to help the banks as best I can."

When it was pointed out to him that the Range Rover he was driving might be viewed as something of an extravagance by those who had paid massive prices for homes in Belmayne and elsewhere during the boom, and who were now in many cases in negative equity, Mr Caulfield offered up a telling insight into his straitened financial circumstances.

"It's not my Range Rover. I got a loan of it. I don't own it. It's a '06 Range Rover and I don't own it. You could get one of them for 10 grand, but I couldn't even afford the 10 grand. I'd have to get a loan of it," he said.

But while the L&M Developments chief may not have the readies available for a new set of wheels, he's still hitting the gym to keep himself fighting fit.

Asked if he was working out, Mr Caulfield gave the Sunday Independent the thumbs up and said: "You gotta!"

Notwithstanding his own impressive physical condition, the 45-year-old developer's debt situation remains far from healthy with several hundred million euro owed by his various companies to Nama and Ulster Bank, amongst others.

It's certainly all a far cry from the time when Mr Caulfield's success in shifting highly priced bricks and mortar allowed him to indulge his passion for Versace and the delights of Marbella, Paris and Rome, places which he readily admitted travelling to "every second weekend" when he first started seeing returns from his development business.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News