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Monday 22 January 2018

Minister for small business owes €2.5m in unpaid loans

THE Government Minister with responsibility for small business, John Perry, is being pursued by a bank for €2.3m over unpaid loans
THE Government Minister with responsibility for small business, John Perry, is being pursued by a bank for €2.3m over unpaid loans

Fionnan Sheahan and Tim Healy

THE minister in charge of small business is being pursued by a bank for nearly €2.5m in unpaid loans.

The Government is insisting junior minister John Perry does not have to resign from his position over the debts.

Danske Bank will apply to Mr Justice Peter Kelly on Monday to have its case seeking judgment for some €2.47m against Mr Perry and his wife Marie fast-tracked to the High Court's big business division, the Commercial Court.

The case is the second time in a year Mr Perry has faced court proceedings over an unpaid debt of more than €1m.

A government spokesman said the minister did not have to resign over the debts.

"We never comment about ongoing court cases," the spokesman said.

Mr Perry's spokesman said last night that the junior minister would not be making any comment.

The bank says the couple, of Ballymote, Co Sligo, are indebted arising from an October 2011 facility for €2.42m provided to restructure existing loans.

It claims the security included first legal mortgages over a retail premises, the Stone Park Restaurant and Perry's Hardware, all located in Main Street, Ballymote, and over some 50 acres of agricultural lands.

It claimed the loan was to be repaid in full some 12 months after it was drawn down in November 2011.

The couple made some repayments but, the bank claims, failed to keep up the level of interim repayments. Last March, it demanded immediate payment of the total sum outstanding, with interest, of about €2.46m. Late last May, solicitors for the bank demanded repayment of the total sum due within seven days.

The bank also claims that, in March 2012, it wrote to the couple under the Code of Conduct for Business Lending asking if they were in financial difficulty and drawing their attention to the information and resources available.

Mr Perry, the Fine Gael TD for Sligo-North Leitrim, was appointed minister of state with responsibility for small business at the Department of Enterprise in March 2011. Last July, he settled an action with Mrs Hilary Burke, a Galway widow, over the alleged failure to pay a €1.3m debt relating to the lease of a hotel.

The case came before the Master's Court where the parties settled the action before it was assigned for hearing by a High Court judge.

Barrister Tomas Keys, for Mrs Burke, told Master of the High Court Ed Honohan that "terms of settlement have been agreed". Master Honohan did not read the terms to the court.

Both legal teams refused to discuss the terms of the deal, and Mr Perry said the court case had no relevance to his role as TD and minister.

His office said in a statement to the Irish Independent: "The proceedings involving John Perry TD... relate to a private commercial matter. They have no bearing whatsoever on his role or function as a public representative or minister of state. Deputy Perry will be making no further comment on the matter."

Also last year, it was reported he had held talks with various banks about refinancing substantial debts, and that he has borrowings of over €5m.

Irish Independent

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