He is the former cabinet minister who left Ireland ten years ago to file for bankruptcy overseas amid a storm of controversy – before returning here to make a fresh start.
But broadcaster Ivan Yates has revealed how in some of his professional dealings he is still haunted by the “indelible stain” of a suspicion that he might have been “reckless” in business.
The former Fine Gael minister, who left Virgin Media One’s Tonight Show to create his own ‘media masterclass’ outfit, is excited by the recent claim by a High Court judge that there is no more ashamed to go bankrupt.
The 62-year-old businessman – who relishes “new challenges” after an “extraordinarily boring and extraordinarily difficult” Covid-19 lockdown – said “attitudes vary”.
He revealed, âIf you understand things like entrepreneurship and risk taking, there is no stigma.
âIf you are not from that background, there is this stigma.
âThere is an indelible stain. It has remained to this day.
âBecause I am an entrepreneur, I keep moving forward.
âI do a lot of events. You find that you do not do anything [events] for banks or financial services. It could be agri, tourism, hospitality, technology – but not for financial services.
âThey certainly don’t forget and I think they attach a stigma to it.
âThere are pockets of that – it’s not openly expressed.
âIn the public sector where people are risk averse, they would think there was an element of recklessness.
âBut the nature of all business is that ducks don’t swim in a straight line. A business can be moved by technology or viruses, and ownership has its ups and downs. ”
Irish Chief Bankruptcy Judge Judge Richard Humphreys told the court last month: âThere is no longer the stigma attached to bankruptcy.
âNo one will blame you anymore. This is no longer the punishment it was before.
Mr Yates said the judge was “absolutely on the money” but added: “I only wish the view was universal.”
The former politician, born in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, has also offered advice to others in his situation.
He added: âThere are still considerable areas of society that would regard the stain as indelible, that it would not be erasable.
âMy advice to anyone in this situation is to recognize and take responsibility for what happened. I always said “it’s my fault” from day one. If you get back on your feet the way they [banks] considered a personal guarantee was that you were their mortgage slave.
“Like you’ve made a big extension to your house or bought a yacht.”
Mr Yates, who was first elected to the Dail in 1981 and left politics in 2001, suffered the collapse of his once thriving Celtic Bookmakers business in 2011. The former agriculture minister left the Ireland for the United Kingdom in 2011, eager to avoid the 12- Connecticut bankruptcy that AIB wanted to impose on it.
In 2012 he filed for bankruptcy in Wales, later calling AIB ‘inhuman’.
Mr Yates is relieved that he and his wife Deirdre have kept their home in Blackstoops, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.
Bankruptcy now lasts for a year in Ireland and has become more popular among troubled businessmen. Most bankruptcies are entered into voluntarily.
So far this year, 173 people have gone bankrupt in Ireland – a one-third increase from 130 in 2020, according to official High Court records.
Five of them were declared bankrupt this week.
Since leaving the frontline broadcast in July 2020, Yates has run businesses, all-day âmedia masterclassesâ and hosts events like the annual National Dairy Show.
The former Newstalk host explained how he struggled during Covid.
He revealed: “I found the lockdown extraordinarily boring and extraordinarily difficultâ¦ with the pandemic, even though others wanted to hire you, the real events weren’t happening.”
He also explained that he did not fail to present daily on radio and television.
Mr Yates added, âI did it from 2009 to 2020, gave it my all. Like politics, I won’t die wondering this.
And he did not close the door to the broadcast.
He added, âIf something happened as a one-off series, I could do it, but I’m not actively looking for it. I have no difficulty finishing a career and starting something new.
The father of four said: âI went bankrupt in August 2012. I found out when I left the country in 2011 that there was enormous hostility. When I returned, there was great hostility.
âEven the responsible people can find themselves in very difficult circumstances. Go from profitability to loss-making situations. Having a lot of assets doesn’t protect you from them.
âThere has been a radical change in Irish attitudes [to Connecticut bankruptcy]. ”
Mr Yates’ media coaching sessions begin later this month at a Dublin hotel – and he said the adoption was’ strong ‘.
But he added: “I fear for the future of the media – commercial media, radio and television.”