Tuesday 24 April 2018

Punt went wrong, but locals still support him

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

THERE's hardly a politician, a bookie or a pundit with a better reputation in his home town than Ivan Yates.

Not a single person on the streets of Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, yesterday wished to see Ivan and his wife Deirdre lose their family home.

Outside Boylesports on Duffry Hill, a man shook his head in disbelief.

He had heard Mr Yates speaking on the RTE 'News at One' an hour earlier but he still wasn't over the shock.

"Can you believe it?" he asked.

The middle-aged man, who ambled out of the Duffry Hill bookmaker's which was owned by Ivan Yates until a fortnight before Christmas, expressed a view that was repeated everywhere in Enniscorthy.

Some even went so far as to say there would be "social unrest" in the town if the banks tried to repossesses the properties at Blackstoops.

The pillars leading to the Yates family residence stand 100 metres from a busy roundabout.

Outside the entrance to the property was one giveaway that Ivan Yates was trying to keep on top of his bills.

His black wheelie bin was plastered in stickers to show it is paid up until March 2011.

Generations of Ivan's family are known in Wexford as "highly respected" Protestant business people.

They have been long regarded as "valuable employers" who treat their staff well.


Yates has taken a punt on a few different ventures in his career but until now they have always paid off. When he went into politics, he revealed that a lot of Protestants went "tut tut", seeing it as the "lowest form of animal life".

He retired from politics in 2001, by which time he had 10 bookmakers. His first was opened in 1987 in Tramore, Co Waterford. At the height of the Celtic Tiger, he had 63 betting shops, including two in the UK, and 300 staff.

A proud man never wants to sell off a business in his own backyard. But that's exactly what Ivan Yates had to do a fortnight before Christmas.

Boylesports bought his betting shop on Duffry Hill in Enniscorthy for an undisclosed fee and moved into the premises in mid-December.

A spokesperson for Boylesports confirmed this stating that it bought the business to "complement" its other betting shop in Old Slaney House in Enniscorthy.

Alarm bells were ringing locally when Celtic Bookmakers was sold to its main competitor.

The company assured local media at the time that it did not expect any more sell-offs in the immediate future.

There was little indication of what was coming down the tracks.

"He has the sympathy of the entire community," said Enniscorthy businessman Jimmy Gahan. "Everybody is behind him here because of the enormous contribution he made in the local community.

"There is no doubt whatsoever that if he decided to return to political life, he would have massive support across Co Wexford," he added.

Irish Independent

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

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News