Page last updated at 10:08 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

'Broke' Irish developer Bernard McNamara has 1bn debt

Bernard McNamara
Bernard McNamara said he would probably lose his Dublin 4 home

A major Irish property developer has said he is "broke" and has debts of around 1.5bn euros (£1.3bn).

Bernard McNamara made the comments in an interview with broadcaster RTE after a court in Dublin ordered him to repay investors in a botched property deal.

Mr McNamara has been told to return 62.5m euros to people who invested in the purchase of a Dublin site in 2006.

They want their money back because Mr McNamara failed to secure fast-track planning permission for the site.

Mr McNamara was a prominent figure in Ireland's property boom. His purchases included the Burlington Hotel which he bought for 288m euro.

He has run into trouble over a scheme which began with the purchase of a 24-acre site on Dublin's southside in 2006.

The Irish Glass Bottle site on Dublin's southside was worth 412m euro at the time of purchase by a consortium consisting of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), Mr McNamara and another troubled businessman, Derek Quinlan.

I'm not running anywhere. I'll stand here and face whatever music there is
Bernard McNamara

The site is now valued at just between 50m and 60m euro.

Mr McNamara raised some of the purchase price from a group of wealthy investors who were promised a 17% return in seven years.

However, with the failure to obtain planning permission they demanded their money back. The structure of the deal means Mr McNamara is personally liable.

Earlier this week, the investors were told Mr McNamara had no assets free from debt, and all the equity in his personal assets had been used to support his businesses and the 1,100 people employed directly or indirectly in them.

He told RTE he will now probably lose his family home on Dublin's exclusive Ailesbury Road.

Speaking on his 60th birthday, Mr McNamara said he had used valuers to determine how much the Irish Glass Bottle site was worth.

"How come they were all so wrong?" he said.

'Behave with decency'

Mr McNamara said he would do all he could to repay his debts and apologised to anyone hurt by the fact he had "waded too deep into the property market.

"I'm not running anywhere. I'll stand here and face whatever music there is," he said.

Mr McNamara said he had created jobs and was not ashamed of what he had done, although he agreed that property developers had "lost the run of themselves" in recent years.

"I didn't cause the crash... I was hit on the road by something that no-one saw was coming. All I can do is do my level best to behave with decency in the situation I am in," he said.

Mr McNamara said he was confident the Irish Glass Bottle site could pay back its bank debt over a 10-year period.

He has stepped down as executive chairman of the Michael McNamara construction company, which was unaffected by Wednesday's judgement.

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