Kelly digs in at the Phoenicia

The globe-trotting developer Paddy Kelly, who owes taxpayers about €1.5 billion through Nama, was recently in court in Amsterdam in a row involving his Irish co-investors in a luxury hotel in Malta. Will he never find peace?

During the boom, Kelly bought the five-star Hotel Phoenicia in Valetta in a consortium with five other investors. It included Pearse Farrell, the uber accountant who co-owns Joe Duffy Motors, and Alastair Tidey, son of the former supermarket supremo Don Tidey who was once kidnapped by the IRA.

About €21 million of loans secured on the hotel were sold by Nama to Hazledene, a property company owned by Scottish developer Mark Shaw. It recently offered to release the consortium from their personal guarantees, if they handed up the hotel and walked away.

Kelly, who has grown quite fond of the place, was the sole dissenter among the group. He has asked a court in Holland, where the consortium was incorporated, to rule on whether the deal can be accepted without his permission. A verdict is due within weeks.


The Phoenicia is an impressive pile. Built near the gates of the city by Malta’s colonial prime minister, it was used as an officers’ mess during the second World War. Kelly appears to be digging in for a battle.

"I love the place. I come to Malta about six times a year. Costs are much lower than back in Ireland, and a G&T is only €2.50," he said, seemingly oblivious to the rage this might provoke in his burnt creditors, The Public.

He said he understands why the other investors want to walk away: “It’s a frightening experience [being involved with Nama]. I understand why people don’t want to become entrenched in the whole thing. But I want to stay involved. There is no harm in asking.”

Well, that all depends on the question.