One of Dublin’s most popular venues, the Shebeen Chic, is being forced to close in the coming week with the loss of 21 jobs, because the staff are being evicted following an on-going dispute between the landlords, Kenneally McAuliffe and the owner of Shebeen Shic Ltd, Jay Bourke.

 The Shebeen Chic on 4 South Great George’s Street, which has been in operation since 2008, is a viable, going concern according to manager Orlagh Murphy, and operates with a modest profit, something the previous four occupants of the premises failed to do during their tenancy.  

The venue currently employs 21 staff, most of whom have worked there since the venue opened in 2008. As well as that, the venue hosts over 20 artists a week, including bands, musicians and comedians, all of whom stand to lose out also should the venue close before a new premises can be found.  

“There is no logical reason why a business that is performing well should be subject to immediate eviction and put so many people out of a job” said Orlagh Murphy, who had to relay the news to devastated and bewildered staff last week that the business they all physically built themselves, was to close on October 10th.  

The company has had a lengthy tenant/landlord dispute over the last two years resulting in an eviction notice from the High Court in July 2011 for the eviction of Shebeen Chic Ltd on 31st January 2012 due to a clause in the lease which the landlords chose to evoke.   The Shebeen Chic was therefore under notice to vacate the premises on January 31st  and set about trying to secure a new premises to move to.  Under the terms of that settlement agreement, Shebeen Shic Ltd was due to pay over its legal fees of €30,000 on September 1st 2011.  

Shebeen Chic was brought back into court on Wednesday 21st September due to the late payment of the fees (five days overdue). Kenneally and Mc Auliffe chose not to accept the fees and instead opted to bring forward the eviction date.  The judge ruled Shebeen Chic should be evicted the next day. Alan Kirwan of Kirwan Mc Keown Solicitors acting on behalf of Shebeen Shic Ltd pleaded for longer notice and the Judge Mr Justice Patrick Mc Carthy set an eviction date of 10th October 2011. According to management, the venue is fully up to date on its rent, revenue and supplier payments. In total, Shebeen Shic Ltd. has paid over €570,000 in rent to Kenneally McAuliffee over the three year period. In an attempt to try and save both her own job and the jobs of the other 20 staff employed at Shebeen Chic, Orlagh Murphy pleaded with Kenneally McAuliffe directly to allow them a stay of execution, to keep the business open until such a time as a new tenant was secured, with Ms. Murphy even offering an alternative solution that would allow her to take over direct management of the Shebeen Chic, which Jay Bourke was agreeable to if it resulted in the jobs being saved.  “We have tried every avenue to work with our landlords to try and come to any sort of arrangement that would help preserve our jobs, if only for a temporary period” said Orlagh. “There is no reason why the landlords shouldn’t agree to this – they will still be getting rent, they will still have a tenant. If the eviction stands, everyone loses, including them.

It makes no sense. We have support from all corners including TD’s Joe Higgins and John Halligan who have both written to the landlords expressing their concern and asking them to re-consider their decision and allow for a stay of execution.  Despite several meetings and letters, our pleas have been ignored; bar a brief letter in response to Joe Higgins and John Halligan’s letters that completely refutes any negotiation on the matter.  Further to that, ever since the High Court outcome in July, the landlords have actively pursued every avenue to try and evict us earlier than the original agreed date of January 31st and I have the documentation to prove this.  Once again, this is a case of the law protecting the landlords and now the state and the public are going to end up paying for this, because some of us will be forced onto social welfare, which is something that no one wants.

All we are asking for is time to secure a new premises and avoid the loss of jobs, which we do not believe is an unreasonable request, in the current economic environment” she concluded.  The staff have now pledged to do whatever it takes to save the Shebeen Chic, even resorting to a lock-in, in an attempt to convince the landlords to accede their proposal.  

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