Nine workers at the Park Inn were called to a meeting with the business’s solicitor on Tuesday afternoon and told the pub was closing immediately, as “problems with the bank” couldn’t be resolved.
The bar and lounge, with B&B accommodation, has been on the market since last year when it was reported to be “trading profitably”.
According to duty manager Derek Ryan, staff were hoping the pub would be sold and kept open or, in a worst-case scenario, close with everyone paid their full redundancy entitlements.
“We were very, very shocked,” Mr Ryan said yesterday. “Up to [Tuesday night] I was still in shock. But the support from the local community has been unbelievable and people have been dropping in food and microwaves and plates of sandwiches.” A demonstration took place last night outside the bar, at the junction of Paddy Browne’s Rd and Tyrone Avenue in the Lismore Park area. Speakers included Mr Ryan and Unite union official Tony Kelly, while the workers’ cause has also won support from local councillors including Seán Reinhardt, Dick Roche, and John Hearne.
“The main issue we have is with the banks,” Mr Ryan said.
“There was a bid put in for the pub a week beforehand and it was turned down by the bank [Bank of Ireland]. All other parties seemed to be happy. It would have kept the premises open and trading as normal, some staff would have been kept and others paid redundancy they were due.
“Now we’re left with nothing. We got no notice [on Tuesday] and no pay in lieu, nothing. We were told we’re getting the previous week’s wages and three days’ holiday pay. That’s it.”
Staff have worked out a roster to maintain the sit-in and some have been sleeping in the pub.
“It’s a great place for a drink but it’s not a great place to sleep!,” Mr Ryan said, adding that “we’ll be here for as long as it takes”.
The Park Inn was put up for sale last May by Robert Tweedy Sr, with a price tag of €650,000.
My Ryan said: “This is not just a pub, it’s probably more of a community centre. I have a mortgage over my head and two small kids and could be left with nothing. Our main aim is to keep the pub open and, other than that, we’re looking for our statutory redundancy.”
In a statement, solicitor Gerard Halley said it was “with great regret” that he, in his capacity as “attorney for Robert Tweedy Sr”, had to inform staff of the pub’s immediate closure.
“Unfortunately, all efforts made to resolve the problems with the bank have failed and because there is no money we were left with no other option but to close,” Mr Halley said.
Staff have been paid up to date and will get help “with their application for redundancy”, he added.
Bank of Ireland said it was bank policy not to comment on individual customers.