Sunday 23 October 2016

The boom is back, and so are some of those who busted it in the first place

Johnny Ronan
Johnny Ronan

We're back, baby.

All of a sudden, the air is filled with talk of multi-million euro developments rising from the ruins, giving everyone the chance to spend money they don't technically have.

The parcel of land which stood as an icon of Celtic Tiger madness - the Ballsbridge hotels' site - looks like being snapped up by developer Joe O'Reilly who, while still owing NAMA hundreds of millions of euro (which he says he's on course to pay back), no doubt plans a heady mix of residential and office space, with hotels and shops.

This week also heralded the very public return of one Mr Johnny Ronan Esq., who has purchased the former AIB headquarters opposite Dublin's RDS, and plans to develop it as, you'll never guess, a heady mix of residential and office space etc.


The timing of Ronan's return was ironic, coming as it did in a week when two of Ireland's best known stores - Bests and Mothercare - went into examinership. Sure, the reasons for their troubles are multiple, but it's significant that the directors of Mothercare cited sky-high, Celtic Tiger era rents. Landlords, may one suggest, like a certain Mr Johnny Ronan.

The diminutive bearded buccaneer has shown himself to be immovable when it comes to lowering rents, going to the Supreme Court to have a decision overturned which would have allowed Bewley's Grafton Street rent to be halved from a mind-boggling €1.5m-a-year back in 2012.

Ronan controlled the company that owned the building, and the appeal was a contributing factor to Bewleys closing down at the start of this year.

We may be back but, unfortunately, so are many of the people who drove us to the edge of ruin in the first place...

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