Sunday 19 November 2017

Liquidator for hotel that was symbol of Tiger era

Tim Healy and Nicola Anderson

WITH its "East-meets-West" designer credentials, cocktails by candlelight and seductive lounge music, it was the hip and cool chill pad of the Celtic Tiger cub set.

The decor came courtesy of John Rocha, the toiletries on the bathroom shelf were Molton Brown and "fabulous launch parties" were a dime a dozen, sometimes featuring burlesque feather dancing and flame throwers.

And it wasn't overly coy about its A-list guest book -- the website boasted that it was "renowned for its celebrity clientele and is the perfect place to spot famous folk when staying in Dublin".

Such celeb guests who have stayed at the Morrison hotel since it first opened in 1999 included Erin Brockovich, Beyonce and Jay-Z. Christine Aguilera even celebrated her first wedding anniversary in the penthouse suite.

But the Tattinger has been put on ice with news that a provisional liquidator has been appointed by the High Court to the four-star boutique hotel, following the withdrawal of one of its owners, Hugh O'Regan, due to €5.7m in unpaid rent.

Liquidator Derek Earl will operate the hotel pending his replacement and the hotel on the bank of the Liffey on Dublin's northside will remain open for business.

Mr O'Regan, surrounded by family and friends, sat impassively in the back of the court yesterday as Mr Justice Brian McGovern entered judgment against the Morrison Hotel Ltd for €5.7m.

Counsel for the receiver then applied to the judge to appoint Mr Earl of Grant Thornton as provisional liquidator.

Mr Justice McGovern said he was satisfied to do so and adjourned the matter to July 17 when the court will deal with the petition to wind up the operator.

The company's barrister said Mr O'Regan had had time to reflect overnight on the proceedings by the receiver and on comments by the judge and would no longer be pursuing a defence.

The judge said he fully understood the "distress and upset of Mr O'Regan in seeing what was a very large enterprise disappearing before his eyes".

Unfortunately, Mr O'Regan was not the only person engaged in successful businesses that had come unstuck, he added.

After Mr O'Regan had given evidence to the court on Thursday and was cross-examined by Rossa Fanning, for the receiver, the judge suggested Mr O'Regan consider his position.

The judge had earlier remarked Mr O'Regan was trying to project himself as "some sort of ignorant simpleton" when he could not be given the business empire he had run.

After the court proceedings yesterday, Mr O'Regan said he was "upset" but did not wish to comment further at this stage.

In his evidence to the court, Mr O'Regan had said he almost suffered a mental breakdown last year when Mr Ferris was appointed receiver over his business empire and is now living on €3,000 a month from the Morrison Hotel.

When Anglo appointed the receiver, "everything else came down", including a project to build a hotel in Kilternan, Co Dublin, for which he received a €180m loan from Irish Nationwide just last year.

The Morrison hotel is owned by Mr O'Regan, developer Patrick Kelly and Patrick Dunning and was operated by MHL. The directors of MHL are Mr O'Regan, Martin Conroy and Dolores Barry.

Irish Independent

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