Deputy Martin Kenny
Leitrim TD Martin Kenny has issued a statement to the Leitrim Observer in response to an article that appeared in the Sunday Independent which alleged that he received a €20,000 business loan for his now defunct company Jack Frost Prevention Systems in 2011 from the Leitrim Development Fund, which they state is a charitable organisation.
The article further alleges that Mr Kenny was a director on the board of the Fund which also failed to declare the transaction in its accounts for four years.
Deputy Kenny told the Leitrim Observer “Many startup businesses do not succeed, in fact up to 25% don't see the end of the second year and indeed others struggle on for many years and while they employ people and provide a service or product, they don't make great fortunes or become magnificently successful.
“Other startups are really successful and expand and grow into large and profitable businesses. All of them, really successful and less successful, need support in the beginning and the local enterprise office is really the only place where that support exists and they do their best to help and develop the local economy.
“While I was on the enterprise board, I made sure not to have any role of influence on the applications for support for Jack Frost, yet like any other startup the enterprise board was the only option to get startup assistance.
“Jack Frost Ltd was set up in 2011 and like any other start-up business, support was sought from the local enterprise office, which at the time helped with product development and marketing and small grants toward employing people and some equipment. The Enterprise Board also offers loans to new businesses, which is done through a sister company of the enterprise board, specially set up to perform this function, called the county enterprise fund.
“The County Enterprise Fund is structured as a not for profit, limited company by guarantee, to provide loans to small new start-up businesses, hence described as a charity, because it has a charity number. However it is not a charity, like Concern or St Vincent De Paul, but part of the standard support structure for developing small enterprises in every county.
“I was on the board of the enterprise fund and when Jack Frost Ltd sought assistance, I made sure not to have any part or influence on the application. The issue raised that the loan wasn't noted on the County Enterprise Funds accounts, is not a requirement I was aware of and I'm sure it was an innocent oversight on their behalf.
“When the loan was approved by the assessment panel, there was a condition that a legal mortgage to the loan amount of €20,000 be placed on our family home. I accepted this condition and instructed my solicitor to make the arrangements and the loan to the company became attached to the house. When Jack Frost was wound up in 2013, funds were very scarce, as we had lost a lot of savings and had much debt and were wrecked through hard work and stress; this is the experience of everyone when a business fails.
“I made an arrangement with the County Enterprise Fund regarding the loan's full repayment and of course the legal lean on our house meant that its repayment was ultimately guaranteed.
“I want to thank the Local Enterprise Office and the voluntary board members for the great work they do to assist small startup businesses and promote enterprise in the county.
“If the criticism is that the business didn't succeed and resulted in liquidation; well in my view, it is better to try and fail than not to try at all.”
The County Enterprise Fund also responded saying that “all our transactions are confidential and therefore we are not in a position to comment at the moment.”
The article also referred to Kenny's involvement in another company H & M with the Sinn Fein deputy stating “H & M innovation Ltd, was a dormant company that never traded at all, an idea that never came to anything. The B1 annual statutory returns were nil each year. This company was dealt with by my accountant in the end, as we intended to wind it up, but instead he transferred the dormant company to new directors in 2020, and they renamed it and intended to trade as KMPS.
“I have never been a director of, or have any knowledge of, KMPS Technology and support. No payment of any kind was made to myself or my wife regarding this transfer. “
In relation to the statement made with regard to the Aughavas Parish Improvement Scheme, he said “this is the local community group that runs a community employment scheme for cutting the grass in the graveyard and maintaining the GAA grounds and other community facilities. I am not an employee and have never received any payment or benefit from this local community group. I simply forgot to register my board membership of this community company and I will ensure that it is listed as an interest in future and I will also contact the clerk of the Dail to ensure all previous records are amended appropriately.”
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