Limerick developers caught up in Libyan chaos

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Limerick businessmen Ger Clohessy and Ger O’Rourke were caught up in war-torn Libya late last week as the country descended into chaos.

Limerick businessmen Ger Clohessy and Ger O’Rourke were caught up in war-torn Libya late last week as the country descended into chaos.

The developers, believed to have been in the country together, stayed on late into the week, with Mr Clohessy leaving as late as last Friday week. The former Young Munster captain is said to have been “pursuing construction contracts” in the country, which is currently in the grip of a deadly power-struggle between Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi and rebels advancing on Tripoli, the capital.

A source confirmed that both men were in Libya last week, with Mr O’Rourke returning earlier in the week. Mr Clohessy is believed to be seeking construction contracts around coastal Libya and is understood to believe that Libya might “open up” for business if embattled leader Gadaffi was removed from power.

The men heard gunfire and missiles in Tripoli while they were there, the source told the Leader.

“When you are out there, you don’t get the sense of danger that the media are portraying, but there was gunfire going off at night time and anti-air missiles and this kind of thing,” said a source close to the men. “I’m sure it was very scary stuff, but they were pretty removed from it at the same time.”

Both men declined to comment when contacted by the Limerick Leader this week. A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs also declined to comment.

Mr O’Rourke is understood to have been focusing on projects in Libya for some time through his company Chieftain Global, which has an office in Tripoli, on El Nofline Street, according to its website. Documents filed with the Companies Registration Office show O’Rourke and wife Majella McMahon to be directors of the company, which lists MahonHouse, Upper William Street as its registered office.

Earlier this year NAMA moved in on three Limerick firms under the Chieftain group due to multi-million euro loans owed to Anglo Irish Bank and AIB. A total of four Chieftain companies are now in receivership and liquidation. Gearoid Costelloe of Grant Thornton was appointed statutory receiver to three firms - Chieftain Construction Ltd, Chieftain City Campus Ltd, and Chieftain Developments Ltd - while Richard Maguire was appointed liquidator to Chieftain Construction Ltd and Chieftain Construction Holdings Ltd.

In June of last year, Mr Clohessy was ordered to repay €34.9m in loans to Irish Nationwide, which were taken out in six accounts for development lands. A brother of Ireland rugby

international Peter, The developer has interests in Belgium, Britain and Russia, and is listed as a director with some 15 companies, according to the CRO.