Enda Kenny was busy down in Castlebar today, attempting to make 60 Senators redundant.
Meanwhile back here in Thurles, Co Tipperary, those placed with the custodial responsibility for the property of others, were also busy little bees, behaving in a somewhat secretive and similar fashion, attempting to reduce the turnover of one of our town’s historical landmarks and a world renowned place of annual pilgrimage.
Receiverships, even in Ireland, are normally observed as an equitable solution whose purpose is to protect a distressed company’s tangible and intangible assets. The obligations of receivers, both moral and otherwise when appointed, come under two headings;
(1) Secure and realise the entity and assets of the company to which they are assigned and where possible retain employees.
(2) Manage the affairs of the company in order to resolve all / any debts outstanding.
As a former employee of the hotel industry for many years, I find myself, when in need of a cup of coffee or a bite to eat, being drawn more to Hotels rather than the Tea Shop or the local Take-Away. As a lover of local history and folklore, you can therefore usually expect to find me supping my cup of coffee in a quiet corner of our famous landmark hostelry known worldwide as Hayes Hotel, home of the GAA and situated here in the very heart of Thurles.
In April last, Hayes Hotel, Thurles, went into receivership. No great shame on its current owners, who had dared to dream, taken a business gamble which if successful would have offered badly needed and considerable full time and part-time employment to our rural community. Six years ago encouraged by our now retired bankers they borrowed and were encouraged to do so, in the name of further necessary business expansion. This encouraged business accepted finance, gambled and lost heavily, when those who had offered umbrellas on sunny days recalled same at the first sign of cloudy sky. (Our readers will have met some of these same banking fraternity today, who despite being in receipt of vast pensions, were contracted to ‘strut their stuff’ behind polling booth tables, drawing lines through voters names, practically everywhere around this island of ours. This is despite the needs of 410,000 unemployed persons who could have happily undertaken this work and supplemented their meagre incomes.)
Having fallen on hard times, KPMG appointed receivers to Hayes Hotel, who confirmed that business would continue as normal and there would be no noticeable interruptions to current day-to-day trading activity. The hotel would continue to fully honour all customer bookings, all deposits and all current memberships.
The appointment of this new management operation was seen here by Thurles residents and business people as yet another blow to an already ailing uncertain rural town economy forced to resort to the use of savings to retain their essential staff and fund new trading stock.
I had noticed during my past few visits to Hayes that my favourite good humoured receptionist was missing, so on my visit this morning I had reason to query her absence as two friends had asked me to book a double room for next weekend. “She does not work here any more and we do not offer accommodation presently,” came the rather apologetic reply from the polite receptionist. With offers of help to obtain alternative accommodation I retreated to the bar area and having concluded other business, I left to make further discreet local inquiries as to the hotels welfare.
The following information gleaned from others, including previous employees, (Current Management point blankly refused to discuss the situation) revealed that since going into receivership in April there has been a systematic down grading of the profitable aspects of this establishment.
Hard working staff have now been cast out to exist on the generosity of the Irish Free State via Dole and Redundancy payments. In recent weeks essential staff; e.g. two Receptionists, two Night Porters, a Resident Disc Jockey and two House Keepers have had their employment terminated. Bedrooms are now closed, the nightclub is closed. Unconfirmed reports from these staff also state that essential maintenance is being undertaken by non local contract operators.
Is it impossible to make a profit from an already established popular weekend Nightclub and is it impossible not to make a profit from bedroom accommodation, even if staff employed were being paid slightly over and above the minimum hourly wage? Why are profitable aspects of this trading enterprise now being closed up?
Local readers stop and think for a moment and ask the questions; “What would Liberty Square be like if this hotel is to be abandoned?” Is Hayes Hotel being deliberately reduced to a valueless entity in time for the next AllSop Space auction? Is it now to be a case of “Last out, please turn off the lights?”
KPMG and their appointed receivers know the answer, but may need reminding that Hayes Hotel is not simply just another property. For many it is a place of annual pilgrimage and a national monument, whose patrons should not be angered. Politicians would do well to remember that Tipperary fired the first shots of the war of Independence once before and just may decide to do the same again before the next election.
If ten jobs had being made available in Thurles this morning, Enda Kenny, RTE, the head of the IDA (whatever his name is), Richard Bruton, Noel Coonan and their ‘handlers’ would have all been strutting around town displaying puffed up chests, spitting out dodgy CSO statistics on their success in creating employment. Unemployment like emigration on the other hand are dirty words best not discussed in any great detail.
Let us see if our Dublin orientated national news seeking journalistic friends will cover this catastrophe, concerning rural Ireland, in their newspapers this week.