Restaurateur wins first round in battle to retain Dublin home
Judge rules against fund’s court bid to set aside cert protecting Ronan Ryan from debts
Judge Jacqueline Linnane was told earlier this month that Ronan Ryan and his wife Pamela Flood (above), a former Miss Ireland, had not paid a cent off their mortgage on the Clontarf property for nine years and had then only made a single payment in February. File photograph: Dave Meehan
Judge Verona Lambe in the Dublin Circuit Court refused an application by the investment fund Tanager to set aside a certificate that protects Mr Ryan from his creditors for 70 days while a financial adviser devises a personal insolvency arrangement to deal with his debts with the aim of retaining the couple’s home.
Mr Ryan, who was represented by Keith Farry BL, successfully challenged the fund’s attempt to set aside a “last-minute” protective certificate - or to exclude Tanager from being covered by it - as it seeks to repossess his home over a €1.2 million debt.
Tanager had claimed that it would be unfairly prejudiced if the certificate remained in place as the couple’s home was in “significant negative equity” - where the value of property is worth less than the debt secured on the house - and it was valued at approximately €900,000.
The judge found that the fund had not proven that it would face material detriment as a creditor.
The matter will now go back before another judge in Dublin Circuit Court, Judge Jacqueline Linnane, where the fund is seeking repossession of the couple’s home at Mount Prospect Avenue in Clontarf on a March 2019 consent order under which they agreed to hand over the property to Tanager on July 9th.
Judge Linnane was told earlier this month that Mr Ryan and Ms Flood (47), a former Miss Ireland, had not paid a cent off their mortgage on the Clontarf property for nine years and had then only made a single payment in February.
‘I want to keep my home’
The restaurateur secured the certificate on June 25th, keeping the couple in their home while he devised a financial plan with personal insolvency practitioner, James Green of McCambridge Duffy.
Mr Ryan (48) told the court he had agreed with a firm working for Bank of Scotland Ireland, his original home lender, to sell the property and had signed “four assisted voluntary sale agreements.”
The house had been “sale agreed” three times, but each time the agreement was collapsed by individuals other than him, either the bank or prospective purchaser, he said.
He denied being a “strategic defaulter” and said there was “an agreement for the lack of payments.” He has been making payments of €3,700 a month to Tanager since March.
Mr Ryan told the court that he had agreed to a possession order believing that he had no other options but now he did “not have any ‘fight’ left” in him and simply wanted to resolve his financial difficulties.
“I want to keep my home. The rental market is an unenviable place for a family with young children and realistically I will struggle like many people caught by the recession years to ever get a new mortgage loan,” said the father of four.
He described the Clontarf house as “very modest and normal” and that its value was only high “due to the location as distinct to the property being a trophy home.”
He said he could afford to repay more than the home was worth, up to the age of 70 at “a very profitable interest rate,” and pay a dividend to arrears and a debt write-off from a €80,000 lump sum he had raised.
Where Tanager is willing to accept €900,000 in full and final settlement, he was willing to make payments of about €1.1 million, he said, and this is a “very commercial proposal that surely must be considered.”
The businessman, who runs Counter Culture in Clontarf and was behind Town Bar and Grill restaurant on Kildare Street, said that he did not want a “free ride” or a “free home,” as has been suggested.
“I am a hardworking man. I was caught by the recession and a huge downturn in trade, and finally in 2019 I am back on my feet,” he said.
“I say that the figures might be a little larger than the average case but the mechanics are all the same.”
He has another 43 days left under his protective certificate to devise the plan.