Businessman wins orders preventing sale of shares in Galway pub

Case involving Lough Inn in Woodquay comes after associates fell out

A businessman has secured High Court orders preventing a former associate he has fallen out with from transferring or selling shares in a Galway-city based pub.

The orders, which are to remain in place pending the outcome of the full hearing of the dispute, were secured by Shane Connolly, who has been involved in the hospitality and other sectors for many years.

He has sued Co Longford-based John Creegan and Colletidae Ltd, a company which owns a licensed premises called the Lough Inn in Woodquay in Galway city.

Mr Connolly claims he is the beneficial owner of Colletidae’s share capital, which he says was held in trust for him by Mr Creegan.

Mr Connolly claims that Mr Creegan, a building contractor, has refused his requests to transfer the shares to the plaintiff.

Mr Creegan, it is alleged, has refused to transfer the shares on the basis that the plaintiff owes him some €200,000 for works allegedly done on a premises in Dublin.

Mr Connolly says he does not owe Mr Creegan the sum demanded.

Mr Connolly came to court earlier this week seeking an injunction preventing Mr Creegan from selling or transferring the company’s shares to anyone other than the plaintiff.

He also sought orders restraining Mr Creegan from selling or letting the Lough Inn to anyone other than Mr Connolly or from publicising that he [Mr Creegan] is the ultimate owner of the shares.

Earlier this week the High Court granted Mr Connolly, who is represented by Eanna Mulloy SC, Barry Mansfield and solicitor Owen Swaine, permission to serve short notice of the injunction application.

Orders

When the matter returned before Ms Justice Marguerite Bolger on Thursday the court heard that, following discussions between the parties, the orders sought in the injunction application could be granted.

The orders are to remain in place pending the outcome of the dispute, Mr Mansfield told the court.

Diarmuid Murphy, for Mr Creegan, said his client was consenting to the orders being put in place.

The judge, after making the orders, adjourned the proceedings, which will be mentioned before the court at a later date.

The court previously heard that Mr Connolly had been in the process of clearing a charge, owed to a financial fund, over the pub.

He feared that once the charge is cleared, Mr Creegan, who is also a director of the company, will attempt to use the premises to pay himself the money he claims he is owed by the plaintiff.

In a sworn statement to the court Mr Connolly said he became friendly with Mr Creegan after being introduced by a third party and had hoped to enter a mutually beneficial business relationship with him.

He said he incorporated Colletidae with the help of Mr Creegan of Lisryan, Granard, Co Longford, who he says was to hold the shares in the company on trust for him and became that firm's shareholder.

This corporate structure, he said, was typically used by him to protect his and his family's privacy. Mr Connolly's father, John, and uncle Joe are legendary hurlers who won many honours with Galway, including the 1980 All-Ireland hurling final, and with their club Castlegar.

He said Mr Creegan was happy to do this as he hoped to get future work from Mr Connolly.

However, Mr Connolly said he fell out with Mr Creegan over the defendant’s claim that he was owed money for renovations carried out on a property in Dublin 7.

Option agreement

He said that while Colletidae does have an option agreement to purchase the Dublin property, Mr Connolly does not own that property, nor did he engage Mr Creegan to carry out renovations on it.

Mr Connolly said that following the disagreement he asked Mr Creegan to take steps including transferring the shares to the plaintiff.

He said Mr Creegan has refused to do this, and as a result Mr Connolly does not have full control over Colletidae.

This, he claimed, affected its ability to make repayments on the loans taken out to buy the pub.

Last February, a receiver was appointed over that premises, Mr Connolly said.

Mr Connolly said he has a deal in place to pay the holder of the charge on the Lough Inn €1.9 million in the coming days and have the receiver removed.

He feared that once that money is paid, Mr Creegan may seek to sell the shares to another party to recover the money he claims he is owed.

Arising out of the defendant’s refusal to transfer the shares back to the plaintiff, Mr Connolly said he sought an injunction to ensure that such a scenario did not occur.