‘We need the public to support us’ – family in home battle over €25m debt

Call for support: Pat Halpin and Ann Keane, proprietors of the Aberdeen Lodge in Sandymount, Dublin, who have been threatened with eviction over their debts. Photo: Tony Gavin

A family threatened with homelessness over €25m debts insist: “We need the Irish public to support us in this fight.”

They live in a multi-million-euro property, the Aberdeen Lodge B&B in leafy Sandymount, Dublin 4, and face a colossal level of debt.

But Patrick Halpin and wife Ann Keane don’t see themselves as different to other families struggling against the spectre of homelessness.

Mother-of-two Ms Keane (47) broke down describing how the family had been unable to take a holiday for five years due to the “constant knocks at the door” as they faced the threat of legal action. When asked why the public should have sympathy for them with the huge figures involved, Mr Halpin (68) stated the €25m borrowed to finance a failed “boutique” hotel was an “unsecured” company loan and should not have been held against their home.

“I understand some people might think we are living on Park Avenue in Sandymount and that we are having coffee and going to the beach every morning,” Ms Keane said.

“But that’s not the case. This is our business and family home. We work damn hard to make it work and that means getting up early, doing laundry, baking, cooking, looking after guests, and fitting in the school run, while also being afraid that at any moment, there could be a knock at the door from someone trying to force us out of our home.”

US bank Goldman Sachs is trying to take possession of the property. The couple have been in a long-running legal fight with the major global financial institution after falling behind on repayments.

A receiver appointed by the US multinational attempted to carry out a repossession order earlier this week.

Mr Halpin said: “We just don’t know what’s going to happen next. We need the Irish public to support us against this vulture fund because they shouldn’t be allowed to throw families out onto the street and that is where we are going if they’re allowed to repossess the house and our business.

“We literally have nowhere else to go. And we will join all the other homeless families.

“It doesn’t make sense because we are paying €5,000 a month from what we earn as a business, so why throw us out on the street?” The debts in this case are over €25m and the property, worth at least €3m, was pledged as security for those debts, a statement from Goldman Sachs said.

“We have extensive experience in working with borrowers in a range of circumstances and every effort has been made over a number of years to find a resolution to this matter. We review these matters carefully and have robust processes to ensure our action is appropriate to the circumstances in each individual case,” it added.

The couple have offered to pay €1.25m in debt secured on the property but claim Goldman Sachs had refused to deal with them. “We’ve worked very hard,” Ms Keane added. “Patrick wanted to open a boutique hotel but he ended up losing 15 years of his life over it.”