Cantillon: Irrepressible Cullen back for more

Businessman returns to motor trade

Exclamation marks are rarely found in business press releases, but the one issued yesterday to mark Bill Cullen's return to the motor trade contained no fewer than two ("Bill Cullen is Back!!"). While not all might celebrate Dr Bill's return, even creditors who were burned when his Glencullen dealerships went under in 2012 must marvel at the man's chutzpah and appetite for climbing back on the start-up horse. This is especially true after last summer, which brought receivership for the Muckross Park Hotel in Kerry that Cullen ran with his partner, Jackie Lavin (right). And without being ageist, it's also worth nothing that Dr Bill is approaching his 72nd birthday, a stage where most of us would be forgiven for slowing down.

But, and presumably this is the nub of it, Bill is an entrepreneur.

A 2012 book on entrepreneurship, published in collaboration with Harvard Business Review Press, and snappily entitled Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck, concluded that some two-thirds of business founders are "hearts dominant", or motivated by passion rather than strategic thinking. Dr Bill would seem to fit into this category, in that his desire to run a business simply could not be repressed.

Another entrepreneur who might fit into the same category is developer Garrett Kelleher, whose defunct plan for the so-called Chicago Spire, the tallest building in the US, has been revived with some local US backing. Kelleher, who has been fighting a bankruptcy battle, clearly has a sense of purpose that has remained undimmed amid his financial travails. Again, his passion is dominant.


A more poignant manifestation of similar qualities was laid bare last month with the death of serial entrepreneur Jim Mansfield, who friends said was still planning a comeback as his health irreversibly declined and his empire slipped away. Again, his desire to do business was dominant.

It goes without saying that black marks feature in the careers of all three men, but that does not mean that encouraging the "hearts dominant" qualities in more Irish businesspeople might not be worth a tiny bit more of the Government's time. All the National Entrepreneurship Policy Statements in the world will, after all, mean nothing unless passion can be properly nurtured.

Accountants' tribunal . . . open then closed

The disciplinary tribunal which opened this week in the Chartered Accountants Ireland offices in Dublin, and which is examining complaints against Wexford businessman and accountant, Alan Hynes (above), is an interesting affair in terms of its structure and procedure.

People who make complaints to the accountants’ organisation have their points reviewed by a complaints committee which, after due consideration, may decide to forward the complaints to a disciplinary tribunal, or not.

The tribunal hearings, when they are held, are announced by way of newspaper advertisements and are open to the public. However the openness is a curious beast.

For instance, the newspaper notices do not give the name of the person who is the subject of the complaints. In the case of the Hynes hearing, the notice simply said complaints had been received against a member whom it was alleged rendered himself liable to disciplinary action by having judgment debts outstanding and it was also alleged he had acted contrary to the institute’s rules of professional conduct.

A request to the registrar at the hearing for a copy of the complaints being made against Hynes met with the response that it was not the tribunal’s practice to give out complaints unless and until a complaint is upheld against a member. Nevertheless, any member of the public who sits through the hearing will get a good idea, though not a clear idea, as to what the complaint, or complaints, are.

At the end of Thursday’s hearing, the tribunal asked that a succinct summary of the complaints might be prepared for the tribunal before it resumes in March. Likewise it asked that Hynes might indicate what facts within the complaints he is disputing or otherwise, before the resumption of the hearing.

Overall, the process can appear a bit unwieldy, and reluctant in its commitment towards transparency. Though the courts, in truth, are not much different.