Tuesday 16 January 2018

Going, going, gone. . . hotelier's last-ditch plea fails to halt sale

Grainne Cunningham

A HOTELIER dramatically interrupted an auction of distressed properties yesterday to make an emotional appeal for bidders not to buy his family business.

Daniel Finnerty got to his feet just as the bidding reached its climax on the Drinagh Court Hotel, Drinagh, Co Wexford, which he and his wife Susan have run for the past 15 years.

Mr Finnerty told the prot-esting auctioneer he did not want to cause any trouble, but he wanted to have his say. A number of people in the Shel-bourne Hotel for the auction called out: "Let him talk."

But while some previous bidders faded back into the crowd, the ultimate bidder persisted with his offer for €600,000 and the gavel fell.

A tearful Mr Finnerty later told the Irish Independent he had presented the receiver with a business plan last week to steer the ailing hotel out of its difficulties but was told it was too late.

"The Bank of Scotland would not entertain me at all," he said, adding that, on the basis of yesterday's selling price, he and his wife could have managed the 20-bedroom hotel as a going concern.

Frustration

"We would have been well in a position to deal with that over the next couple of years," he said, expressing frustration with the fact that now the bank has lost big money on the hotel too.

The Finnertys' loss of livelihood yesterday was just one example of the darker side of the bargains available at auctions -- particularly when the property is a distressed one.

The couple realised they were in financial difficulties two years ago, having invested heavily in renovations just before the economy crashed and bookings slowed.

It was they who contacted the bank and not the other way around.

The Finnertys, who have three children, said they were grateful to accountant Kieran Burns and friend Gary Johnson who helped them to draw up the business plan, without any fee.

They also thanked the people of Wexford who supported the hotel down through the years.

Mrs Finnerty said: "It was a thriving business. No one could have foreseen this".

And her husband added: "The bank has left us high and dry. This leaves us with nothing."

However, both agreed that they had no gripe with the new owners, and a now out-of-work Mr Finnerty said he would like to talk to them.

Irish Independent

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