Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Small Business

'I didn't do anything wrong' - Meath man protests auction of family business

Tom O’Reilly lost his engineering business of over 20 years when clients failed to pay him for some €600,000 worth of services.

Tom O’Reilly outside the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin where the distressed property auction was taking place (© Michelle Hennessy/

A FATHER OF five from Navan, Co Meath, staged a protest in Dublin today against the sale of his family business which he set up over 20 years ago.

Tom O’Reilly’s engineering business property was taken from him by receivers around two years ago after he built up €600,000 in bad debt. Speaking to at the protest, which was staged outside an auction Shelbourne Hotel, O’Reilly said he struggled to get clients to pay the business for services and eventually the debt became overwhelming.

The property was due to be auctioned at a distressed property sale by Allsop today but it was delayed at the last minute.

“We only had one business, that’s all we have, and I started it from scratch 20 years ago,” he said. “I’ve been left in a lot of trouble, the bank is on our backs now and I didn’t do anything wrong.”


At the height of the boom, the property was worth €1.4 million and it will now be auctioned off for around €50,000.

“I spent €70,000 on the wiring alone in that place and pumped a lot of money into it, everything I had,” O’Reilly said.

(Image: Paul Hyland)

At the protest of around 12 people today, O’Reilly was supported by people from his community who praised him for his efforts in fundraising and organising events for his local area. The engineering business employed around 50 people from the the area and protesters said the loss has impacted on the entire community.

His sister and two of his daughters were also at the protest and spoke of the stress that losing the business has put on the entire family.

“It’s had a huge effect on my dad, he built that business up for over 20 years,” Emma Mangon said. “He started in a recession and has finished in a recession and he’s normally a very positive, upbeat person but he’s fed up with us just lying down and taking it.

Tom pictured with his two daughters Melissa (left) and Emma (right) (© Michelle Hennessy/

Melissa O’Reilly, who worked with her father in the business for the last six years and has had to move back home since it collapsed, said her father always planned to pass on the business to the next generation in the family.

“We’re trying to be as positive as well can but it’s not easy when you have the government, the bankers, builders, developers and contractors, each and every one of them taking their turn and taking a little piece from you and we’re left with very, very little.”

O’Reilly said his protest was not just about himself or his own family and that he wanted to “start a movement for ordinary people to stand up for themselves”.

He called on the government to introduce legislation to protect small business people instead of laws “in favour of big businesses”.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.