Downfall of Dungannon’s King and Queen of property

An Augusta A109A Mk2 helicopter
An Augusta A109A Mk2 helicopter

By Staff Reporter

They were once one of the richest couples in the country with a place on the Sunday Times rich list, but this week former property tycoons Peter and Jacqueline Dolan had the plug pulled on their empire.

The husband and wife developers were both disqualified as directors for seven years each, after their companies racked up losses of over £110m.

A decade long buying frenzy saw the Dolans snap up shopping centres in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Poland, and an airport in Hungary, as well as office blocks and retail units across the province.

The couple accepted examples of misconduct as directors, including withholding £1.9m which should have been paid in tax, of which £1.6m was owed by Jermon Ltd.

They also accepted bouncing cheques of £130,000 on Jermon Ltd’s account, misappropriating or misapplying company funds belonging to it and Curragh Properties and failing to keep proper accounts.

Mr Dolan became one of the most prominent developers in Northern Ireland during the boom as he amassed a huge property empire after leaving his job as a pharmacist, and his wife, a teacher, was also a director.

He set up Jermon in 1997 as a way to reinvest profits from the family pharmacy business.

The firm’s first major project was the development of Northern Ireland’s first purpose-built Tesco in Dungannon.

He was bankrupted in 2012 through his period of bankruptcy has now expired.

At the height of the property boom, Jermon Developments bought an old military base and airport in Hungary and planned to spend £160m converting it into one of the region’s biggest cargo hubs.

The Dungannon based company’s extensive portfolio included Belfast’s Donegal Arcade, the Linen Green Centre and the Spires retail park in Armagh. Jermon had also teamed up with Heatons, the Irish department store group, in Poland.

In 2006-07, Jermon showed net assets of £49.5m, while in 2009 the Sunday Times rich list put the Dolan family wealth at £38m.

Their assets included an Augusta A109A Mk2 helicopter, worth £300,000.

At the height of the boom, a ‘P Dolan’ had secured planning permission for a hangar and helipad at Kingarve Road in Dungannon, also the setting for a palatial new family home which is still incomplete.

An underground helicopter hangar is thought to be finished but the helipad is not yet built.

The Dolans were disqualified as directors for seven years over their conduct of Jermon Ltd – which went bust owing £107.7m – and for five years Jermon Properties and Curragh Properties.

Jermon Properties owed nearly £742,000 when it went bust, while Curragh Properties had liabilities of £2.2m.

In February, Mrs Dolan secured High Court permission to defend a bank’s claim against her for more than £31 million in personal guarantees.

Jacqueline Dolan was granted an order setting aside default judgment for the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

She was held to have established a potential defence to the claim based on the alleged undue influence of her husband Peter Dolan.

IBRC had obtained default judgment against Mrs Dolan for £31.6m it claimed over a personal guarantee from 2008.

Contesting that order, she argued that she became a director in the company at her husband’s request but held the post in name only.

Mrs Dolan stated that she had worked as a teacher at in a secondary school and took no note of the firm’s finances beyond what Mr Dolan told her.