David Drumm dragged into Mercantile pub group dispute

Feuding publicans at odds over whether former banker was suggested for finance role

A disputed claim that former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm was suggested as finance director of one of Dublin's largest pub and restaurant groups is part of a bitter court battle between shareholders.

Well-known Dublin publican Frank Gleeson made the claim in a solicitor's letter last week to fellow shareholders in the Mercantile Entertainment Group, which owns Café en Seine, Whelan's, the Mercantile Bar and Hotel, the Green Hen restaurant, and the George, as well as other pubs and restaurants.

He said the suggestion was made last year by Mercantile shareholder Michael Breslin, a native of Co Meath who made his fortune running a scaffolding business in the US and for whom Mr Drumm reportedly supplied consultancy services when living there after his departure from Anglo.

Mr Gleeson “opposed this suggestion, which he regarded as bizarre and misconceived in the extreme, not least because of Mr Drumm’s lack of experience in the hospitality business”, according to the letter.


‘Devoid of truth’

However, in a response three days later, solicitors acting for the other Mercantile shareholders, including Mr Breslin, strongly refuted the claim. Mr Gleeson’s assertions about Mr Breslin and Mr Drumm were “malicious, scurrilous and absolutely devoid of truth,” said solicitors Eugene F Collins.

Mr Drumm served as chief executive of Anglo between 2005 and 2008, after which he moved to the United States, where he later made an unsuccessful bankruptcy application. He now lives back in Ireland.

It was “fanciful” to suggest that, in March 2016, Mr Drumm could have been considered for the position “in view of his well-publicised personal circumstances”, the Eugene F Collins letter states.

The exchange took place last week ahead of an application on Monday in the Commercial Court where a company associated with Mr Breslin and another US-based Irish builder Maurice Regan is seeking €4.6 million judgment against Mr Gleeson arising from loans given early last year. The company is not a shareholder in Mercantile.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent