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Friday 24 May 2019

Final collapse of his life's work took just 25 minutes

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

IVAN Yates is a big man. He easily dominates the dozen or so creditors, lawyers and accountants milling around the foyer of the Pearse Hotel in Dublin city centre.

They are here for the "creditors' meeting" to mark the final collapse of Celtic Bookmakers, the chain of bookies shops set up by Mr Yates and his wife Deirdre in 1987.

Mr Yates is facing bankruptcy. By coincidence, the hotel is in receivership. So is one of the creditors.

The atmosphere is unhurried, but awkward.

The crowd is scattered among younger tourists who are in town for St Patrick's Day. In a corner, a runner-wearing techie has his face buried in front of the screen of a laptop, preparing for a meeting at the nearby Google headquarters.

Most of the creditors simply didn't turn up, because for most, it would be a fool's errand. The bank -- AIB -- has first claim on Celtic Bookmakers' assets.

AIB put in its own receiver a year ago. It has made back €2.5m; there is nothing left.

It can now go after Mr Yates's personal assets, but the other creditors have no claim on these.

Most are so-called "unsecured creditors". They rented shops to the business, sold it stationery, provided heating, lighting and the other day-to-day necessities of business. Between them, they are owed €1.6m. They will get nothing.

The 52-year-old ex-politician and now failed businessman is suited and booted for the occasion.

The meeting to wind up the company is closed to the public, but it is over in just 25 minutes. Celtic Bookmakers goes into liquidation.

There's no sign of recrimination; one businessman is edgy, but has no particular beef with Mr Yates.

The creditors backed Mr Yates's choice of liquidator and opted not to investigate the reason for the collapse of the company. Afterwards, they mill about the hotel foyer and Mr Yates sits down to go over the morning's events.

His situation is bleak. The bank is after him for €3.6m. The loan was called in this week and he has two months to find the cash.


"I don't believe I have €3.6m," he says, simply. He's been trying to negotiate but the bank has not accepted his proposals.

It wants a 10-year lien on all future income, as well as his assets.

And he does have assets -- including a share of a valuable farm outside Enniscorthy, but it is part-owned by his mother, complicating any enforcement action.

He's clearly concerned by his mother's situation, but pleased to say she celebrated her 80th birthday in good health earlier in the month.

Mr Yates thinks his media earnings are so unpredictable that it makes it impossible to sign up to a deal.

"I think it's absolute folly to make provision for future earnings I might not be able to honour," he says.

He's irked by the bank but there is little sign of self-pity.

"There are so many people going through this," he finishes.

Irish Independent

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