Hotelier halts auction of distressed farm

Co Leitrim hotel owner cheered after stopping sale of neighbour’s property

Bush Hotel owner Joe Dolan said: “Such events might be commonplace in the Shelbourne Hotel, but they are not in the Bush Hotel and never will be.”

Bush Hotel owner Joe Dolan said: “Such events might be commonplace in the Shelbourne Hotel, but they are not in the Bush Hotel and never will be.”

Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 01:23

A Co Leitrim hotel owner who dramatically halted an auction on his premises was cheered and applauded by

more than 100 people, many of them there to support a local farmer whose property had been put on the market against his wishes.

Joe Dolan, owner of the Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon, told the crowd: “You are very welcome but not under these circumstances.”

He added: “Such events might be commonplace in the Shelbourne Hotel, but they are not in the Bush Hotel and never will be.”

The auction last Friday was attended by members of the New Land League, which campaigns against evictions and has intervened in a number of auctions, as well as by many of the farmer’s neighbours and supporters.

Seamus Carthy, the auctioneer involved in Friday’s sale, insisted yesterday he had withdrawn the farm from the auction last Wednesday, having learned the previous day of the “issues” surrounding it. He said he had confirmed this in writing to both his client, the receiver, and to the New Land League organisation.

“I have never been involved in the sale of a family farm which was not consensual,” said Mr Carthy.

But Jerry Beades, spokesman for the New Land League, said as far as the family was concerned, the property was still on the market on Friday morning.

One local man, present at the auction to support the family, said some of the protesters had threatened to picket the auctioneer’s office if the auction went ahead.

Tea and sandwiches

Mr Dolan told those present he was aware as a businessman of his contractual obligations, but he was also aware of his greater responsibility under

health and safety. He said he did not consider the room suitable, given the numbers present, and he was therefore cancelling the event and inviting everyone there for tea and sandwiches. He said he had notified gardaí and the fire authorities of his intentions and these had been endorsed.

A video recording of Mr Dolan’s intervention has been posted on Facebook.

He said he was not aware until the previous evening of the nature of the event and felt compromised and embarrassed.

“I apologise to my community,” he added.

Mr Dolan later confirmed he knew the owners of the family farm, who were “from my parish”, describing them as neighbours and friends who were involved in the same GAA club as his sons.

‘Community rallied’

He added it was a small rural community where people shared each other’s pain and happiness.

“The community rallied around my family when we had our own tragedy ,” said Mr Dolan.

His 20-year-old son Andrew died on New Year’s Day 2012 after an unprovoked assault.

“Shame on us if we did anything else,” he said yesterday.

Mr Beades said the New Land League had contacted the auctioneer when it became aware of the circumstances of the case, and a number of members had attended the auction.

The group has since invited all auctioneers in Carrick-on-Shannon to sign its code of practice, which prevents the sale of property if there is a legal dispute between the bank and the owner.

Mr Beades said the group was taken aback at the scale of support for the family, who he said wanted their privacy respected.

Mr Beades said the New Land League was opposed to banks which had been bailed out seeking 100 per cent repayments from homeowners, farming families and business people.

He said that after professional fees to solicitors and accountants were paid, in many such cases “families can be put out on the road and banks still get buttons”.