Jay Bourke is haunted by the ghost of personal guarantees

Contingent debt from Meath hotel hindering businessman’s chance at financial rehab

This week's court application by publican and restaurateur Jay Bourke to approve a personal insolvency arrangement – a debt write-off plan to restore a person to financial health – is yet another example of an heavily indebted person struggling to shed the burden of Celtic Tiger-era debt.

Bourke is best known as the man behind some of Dublin’s most popular nightspots, including the Globe, the Front Lounge and PantiBar. He is known more recently for his association with one of the most public breaches of Covid-19 health guidelines when, in August 2020, a staff member at his popular Berlin D2 restaurant was videoed pouring shots into the mouths of customers from a standing position on the bar. The bar lost its licences as a result.

The loss of income from the bar’s closure and the general Covid-19 restrictions imposed on the hospitality sector have not helped Bourke’s finances. The 55-year-old businessman said this week that his income had been “decimated”.

But it is a much longer-term debt that has triggered his court move. A €12 million debt arising from loans to redevelop Bellinter House, the Meath hotel and wedding venue he co-owned with the late concert promoter John Reynolds, has given an investment fund voting power to block Bourke's attempt to approve the insolvency arrangement among his creditors. He has had to go to court – first the Circuit Court and now the High Court – in a bid to over-rule that objection.


The hotel has long been sold off but the contingent debt arising from personal guarantees – probably bought by the fund for just cent in the euro – is hindering Bourke’s chance at financial rehabilitation. The Revenue Commissioners, owed a €550,000 tax debt, had threatened to bankrupt Bourke but now support his proposed arrangement, as does the mortgage lender on his home in Rathmines, Dublin, and another investment fund who is an unsecured creditor.

This would suggest that Bourke’s chances of getting a debt write-off deal over the line are good but, for now, an investment fund holding a large chunk of his almost €14 million in debts stands in his way.