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Shebeen Chic staff to stage 'lock-in' protest over closure

Staff at the George’s St pub are to keep their regular opening hours but sleep, shower and eat in the premises in order to prevent it being closed before 31 January. A high court eviction order has been served on the tenants.

The Shebeen Chic
The Shebeen Chic
Image: Google Street View

STAFF AT THE Shebeen Chic pub and restaurant in Dublin are to sleep, shower and eat in the premises in an attempt to prevent the building’s owners from evicting them on 10 October.

Restaurateur Jay Bourke, the owner of the Shebeen Chic, and staff are being threatened with eviction from the building on Georges Street, which is owned by Kenneally McAuliffe auctioneers, in dispute over unpaid rent.

In October 2010, the landlords, Kenneally McAuliffe, took Bourke to the High Court over rent payments, with Bourke being asked to pay €49,000 in outstanding rent.

Michael Kenneally told TheJournal.ie today: “This is not a one-off thing that has happened, this has been in and out of the High Court for the last two years. If I was happy with the tenant the tenant would still be there but there have been breaches of agreements.”

Manager of the restaurant, Orla Murphy, told TheJournal.ie that the landlords now have an eviction order for them but says she offered them an interim solution that was rejected.

She described it as an ongoing dispute between the landlord and tenant.

The first year we traded very poorly, it was tough getting off the ground. We were late paying rent. The tenant put his hands up straight away. Eventually we got up to date. Everything is up to date but we acted like poor tenants the first year. They just want to get us out because of a personal thing with the tenant. We feel as employees we are picking up the tab.

She said that the business is viable and she is asking Kenneally McAuliffe to allow them to stay open until 31 January 2012.

That was the initial date of eviction, but following another visit to the High Court, it was changed to 10 October as the owners of the Shebeen paid the landlords’ legal fees five days late.

“We knew about from [original] High Court [eviction] order in July. We accepted the law; that was our fate,” said Murphy. “Ever since then there was an agreement in the High Court, a settlement agreement. The arrangement was we could go on until 31 January 2012 if we would pay their legal fees. We duly paid the rent but they wouldn’t accept it for various technical reasons.”

She says the landlords waived the €30,000 in fees to achieve an earlier date of eviction.

However, Kenneally said today that: “Their problem is not with me. The staff employer is Shebeen Chic, not me. The staff’s gripe should be with the Shebeen Chic. I don’t hold balance of power as such.

“Their employer gave two fingers to High Court and didn’t even bother showing up and the High Court said it had enough.”

In total, 21 staff would be left out of a job in the pub from 10 October, and this would also affect between 40 and 60 musicians and bands who regularly play live at the venue.

Murphy and staff now want the pub to remain open until 31 October and will stay in the building 24/7 to prevent them from being evicted.

Murphy said that Deputies John Halligan and Joe Higgins have petitioned on the staff members’ behalf and urged the landlords to accede to Murphy’s proposal.

Now she feels they have no choice but to stay put in the building.

We don’t want to be in the dole queue. We are opening and closing the pub as normal. We are going to stay in overnight, sleep overnight, shower in the kitchen. I’m going to keep paying my staff.

Kenneally said of these plans: “If they are interested in being re-employed, I think that this is not a course of action they should take.”

Murphy added that the intention of the Shebeen Chic is to reopen in another building.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell

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