Monday 23 October 2017

Top concert promoter admits cancer claim was 'phantom illness'

Tim Healy

CONCERT promoter Eamonn McCann told long-time MCD colleague Denis Desmond he had cancer and had five years to live as the pair discussed terms for ending their alleged partnership, the High Court heard yesterday.

This was, however, a "phantom illness" and something that should never have been said, Mr McCann's counsel said on the opening day of a dispute between the two men about the share of profits due to Mr McCann.

It was a "singularly stupid" and "particularly unforgivable act" especially given the relationship between the two men over the years, including Mr McCann's son being godson to a son of Mr Desmond, senior counsel Brian O'Moore for Mr McCann said. It was done in the context of Mr McCann being very worried about the business he had been involved in, counsel said.

The court heard the dispute centres on a June 2006 agreement in which Mr Desmond would buy Mr McCann's share of their alleged partnership in the promotion and operation of outdoor concerts in the Republic for 4.66 times the average net profits for the three years 2003 to 2005.


Mr McCann is claiming that to give effect to that agreement, it was necessary for him to see the relevant books and records of the partnership so as to calculate the profits for the relevant period.

But, Mr McCann alleges, Mr Desmond had not kept the accounts and income of the alleged partnership -- or joint venture as alleged by Mr Desmond -- as a separate account but instead permitted those funds to be used by his MCD Productions company.

In the proceedings bought by Mr McCann, of Deramore Drive, Belfast, he claims he is owed some €3.8m as his profit share related to a number of events between 2001 and 2006. Mr Desmond says that figure should be €104,680.

Mr McCann claims he had become increasingly concerned about the manner in which Mr Desmond dealt with profits from the partnership and he arranged for a "forensic" examination of books and records.

Mr McCann claims Mr Desmond had not kept the accounts and income of the alleged partnership as a separate account but instead permitted those funds to be used by Mr Desmond's MCD Productions company.

Mr McCann also claims further monies received as sponsorship had been retained by another company controlled by Mr Desmond, Gaiety Investments.


It is alleged Mr Desmond later denied the existence of a partnership, was reluctant to disclose the books and accounts, and provided limited information relating to accounts. Mr Desmond, of Vartry Lodge, Strand Road, Killiney, Co Dublin, denies Mr McCann's claims. Opening the case yesterday, Mr O'Moore said the two men had been in a commercial relationship since 1980.

While there were various ups and downs between the pair, there were three forms of common activities between them: Mr McCann was the public face of MCD in relation to the organisation of indoor and outdoor events in Northern Ireland and in relation to bar sales at events throughout the country; while Mr Desmond was the public face in relation to outdoor events in the Republic, counsel said.

The court was being asked to determine a number of discrete issues over the June 2006 agreement to buy out Mr McCann's share in the partnership in relation to outdoor concerts in the Republic, counsel said.

These included what was the nature of the alleged partnership and how profits were calculated as part of the 2006 agreement. The calculation of overheads and expenses was also an issue to be determined, counsel said.

There was an amount of correspondence between the parties and a number of meetings in 2006 including one in April in Jurys Hotel Croke Park when Mr McCann was deeply concerned about the business and particularly worried about the overheads issue, counsel said It was at that meeting which Mr McCann spoke about his "phantom" cancer and asked Mr Desmond not to tell anybody, counsel said.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News