A judge revealed a systemic impotence in court this week (July 24 ) when he acknowledged he was unable to help a council recover a €320,000 debt from developers, despite their unfinished apartment block earning €330,000 a year in rent.
“The entire rental income is under the control of the [Ulster] bank,” said Mr Martin Egan, solicitor for Helen, Sarah, and Michael Glennon Jr, the directors of the Glennon Group from Moate.
The three siblings had been summonsed by Athlone Town Council over the outstanding debt on an unfinished block of student apartments which their firm built opposite the Athlone Institute of Technology.
Mr Egan accepted there was work outstanding at the development that had been enshrined in the planning permission, mainly communal area work like public lighting and road surfacing and marking.
He accepted his clients promised during an October meeting with the council that they would have it done by July 1 “whether the bank agreed to this or not”, but went on to say that: “This hasn’t happened because the banks won’t allow it”.
“Reading between the lines there seems to be little or no possibility of getting all the works finalised?” enquired Judge Seamus Hughes.
The solicitor for the council told the court that the local authority believed the rental income for the development to be around €330,000 per annum, and the remaining work costed at €320,000.
“The council would like some of the rental income to go towards this work,” he said.
However Mr Egan told the court: “The entire rental income is under the control of the bank”, and that his clients’ hands were tied by this.
“So all the income is going in one direction, but we have more than one creditor? We don’t want the bank putting its big paw in for all the money, and I’ll tell them that in this court,” declared the judge.
“We haven’t a problem with doing the work, but with the bank,” said Mr Egan, before asking the judge to order the bank’s representatives attend the next meeting between the council and the Glennons.
However, after a brief break, Judge Hughes admitted he was powerless to do this before adding: “The council has to be realistic too, and sometimes has to walk away from stuff”.
Mr Egan told the court his clients didn’t expect to ever pay off the debt.
“You’ve been very honest. These are tragic circumstances. Wasn’t the Ulster Bank very silly to lend you all that money?” said the judge to Ms Helen Glennon before asking the parties to organise another meeting before September 4, and to “go to the head honcho [at the bank] with the summons”.