herald

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Vulture fund is chasing RTE star Gaybo and family for €1.2m

Gay Byrne. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Gay Byrne. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Gay Byrne with wife Kathleen Watkins and daughters Suzy and Crona. Photo: Brian McEvoy

RTE broadcaster Gay Byrne is facing further financial woes as a vulture fund is seeking a €1.2m judgment against him and his family.

It is being sought in relation to a partnership comprising the broadcaster, his wife Kathleen Watkins and their two daughters, over alleged default on a loan acquired from Bank of Scotland.

The case has been brought before the Commercial Court by Feniton Property Finance DAC, which in 2015 acquired a 2007 loan of €1m to the Clonskeagh Partnership from Bank of Scotland (Ireland).

Investment

In a sworn statement, the fund said the loan was to be used to fund an investment by the partnership in the Quinlan Private CERDII Fund.

The partnership is made up of Mr Byrne - who is battling cancer - and Ms Watkins, of Shrewsbury Square, Sandymount Avenue, Dublin, as well as their daughters Susan O'Byrne, an office manager of Onslow, The Baily, Howth, Co Dublin, and Crona Byrne, an entrepreneur, of Tinerana, Raheenmore, Co Clare.

The loan was for a period of six years, and expired in 2013.

In November 2015, the fund purchased the loan from Bank of Scotland (Ireland).

In its action against the partnership, the fund claims the monies borrowed were not repaid.

In April of this year, the fund says it made a demand on the partnership for the full amount it claims is outstanding on the loan.

It claims the demand has not been satisfied and seeks judgment against the partnership of just over €1.226m.

The case was admitted, on consent, to the fast-track Commercial Court list by Mr Justice Brian McGovern yesterday. The case returns to court in January.

When contacted by the Herald last night, Mr Byrne said he was "unable to comment on the case or say anything about it" as it is ongoing.

The veteran broadcaster previously spoke about the financial pressures he was under, describing it as "a millstone around our neck".

He revealed that a downturn in his finances was one of the reasons why he returned to TV screens.

"I am working because I have to, although I choose to do it anyway," he said.

Mr Byrne has suffered financial troubles before. In 1996, it was revealed that his friend and financial adviser, Russell Murphy, was a rogue accountant who had stolen his life savings.

The broadcaster is currently undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.

Mr Byrne told listeners to his Lyric FM show that he had been diagnosed with the disease last November.

Since then, he has taken time off from his radio show, but he has plans to return to the air once his cancer treatment concludes.

Easy

Last month, he said that, while he found chemotherapy a challenge, he was getting on with it.

"It's not a major imposition. You get into the cycle," he said.

"I had it easy for the first six months because, instead of doing the full chemo, I was on tablets. But then they found that the PSAs were creeping up again and they said, 'we want to whack this'. I'm back now doing the full chemo."

He also admitted that he has been a "terrible patient" throughout his treatment.

He will return to our TV screens later this year with the 14th series of The Meaning Of Life which previously featured Stephen Fry, Dolores Keane, Joan Burton, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy and Majella O'Donnell.

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