Now many (or all) of you may not find this interesting, tough titty. It is Irish news, but I didn’t hear about it by the normal channels. [H/T to Sirenoftitan]
First up, a little background about Denis O’Brien…
O’Brien set up and chaired the Esat Digifone consortium which won a mobile phone licence in the 1990s. The Moriarty Tribunal found almost beyond doubt that O’Brien’s won this contract due to payments he made to Michael Lowry, the then communications minister, who unduly influenced the bidding process.
Now, an interesting snippet about Michael Lowry is that he was basically thrown out of his party back in the 90’s for corruption. In the 90’s, I played quite a bit of tennis. What has that to do with anything you may ask. Well, I will tell you. I played a lot of doubles with Michael Lowry’s ex-mistress and he basically was (and probably still is) the scum of the earth. He was a liar, a crook, a tax cheat and an adulterer. And that is who Denis O’Brien was palling around with…
This contract formed the basis of O’Brien’s fortune. He established Digicel, a major telecoms provider in the Caribbean. O’Brien formed Communicorp Group Ltd in 1989, with the company currently owning 42 radio stations in eight European countries, including Ireland’s Newstalk, Today FM, Dublin’s 98 (formerly 98FM), Spin 1038 and Spin South West. He founded the international commercial aircraft company Aergo Capital Limited – registered in Dublin, with offices inNairobi, Singapore, Santiago and Johannesburg. He is a leading shareholder in both Sterling Energy and Independent News & Media (IN&M).
Born in County Cork, O’Brien graduated with an Arts degree from University College Dublin, received an MBA in corporate finance from Boston College in 1982, and was later given an honorary doctorate by University College Dublin. After the sale of Esat, he moved to Portugal where he owns the Quinta di Lago golf complex. He is now a resident of Malta.
Fast forward to the news in the Guardian today:
Catherine Murphy, an Independent TD (MP), yesterday spoke about the relationship between Ireland’s leading media owner, Denis O’Brien, and the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), the former Anglo Irish Bank.
Here is a key passage from her speech (edited only to make it explicable to people outside Ireland who have not followed the details of a long-run saga):
“We are now aware… that the former CEO of IBRC made verbal agreements with Denis O’Brien to allow him to extend the terms of his already expired loans…
I understand that Mr O’Brien was enjoying a rate of approximately 1.25% when IBRC could, and arguably should, have been charging 7.5%.
Given that we are talking about outstanding sums of upwards of €500 million, the interest rate applied is not an insignificant issue for the public interest.
Her speech can be seen here on YouTube and can be accessed here on the Oireachtas website. But her remarks were not reported in Ireland because lawyers acting for O’Brien argued that the details were covered by a high court injunction obtained by O’Brien against the country’s main broadcaster, RTÉ, last week.
That injunction prevented RTÉ from broadcasting a report relating to O’Brien’s private banking affairs with IBRC. It was imposed despite RTÉ contending that press freedom, public interest and legitimate journalistic inquiry should be paramount.
But the extension of the terms of that injunction to cover a parliamentary speech has shocked the Irish media community, not to mention the public…
It had extraordinary effects. For example, RTÉ reporter Philip Boucher Hayes tweeted yesterday afternoon that the Drivetime show was about to play Murphy’s speech, but the piece was not broadcast and his tweet was later deleted.
RTÉ news bulletins mentioned that Murphy had spoken but didn’t quote what she had said or play clips. Online reports quoting Murphy were removed, stating only that Murphy had spoken about O’Brien. Similarly, the Irish Times’s report was silent on what Murphy said but it did provide a link to her speech on the Oireachtas site. (Evidently – hat tip: Padraig Reidy – the Irish Times did initially report her words).
The report on the matter by Ireland’s best-selling daily newspaper, the Irish Independent, said: “Mr O’Brien successfully stopped RTÉ from broadcasting the details which Ms Murphy raised in the Dáil”.
The Indo, as it is known in Ireland, is owned by Independent News & Media (INM), which is controlled by O’Brien. That company is far and away the largest newspaper owner in Ireland. It also publishes the Irish Daily Star, the Sunday Independent, the Sunday World, Dublin’s Evening Herald plus 14 regional titles and, north of the border, the Belfast Telegraph.
So there you have it. There has been a media blackout on the affairs of one Mr. Denis O’Brien, as the Irish taxpayer foots the bill for his thieving and corrupt ways.
However, I do know a little about the affair of his former partner in crime – Michael Lowry. He treated his mistress very badly one night when she arrived unexpectedly in a pub where he was canvassing for votes. She was hoping to surprise him, but he studiously ignored her. Why I don’t know because everyone knew about the dalliance!
She was so upset that the following morning she had to be turned around to face the right direction on the court…
So keep on silencing the media Denis O’Brien. You can’t shut everyone up and you would be amazed at the chit chat that happens over the net. 😉
Update: Courtesy of The Guardian again because our national broadcasting station can’t report on it.
“Denis O’Brien, the major shareholder in Ireland’s Independent News and Media Group, won an injunction that his lawyers argue prevents Irish broadcaster RTÉ from reporting a speech by a leftwing Dáil deputy who raised questions about the billionaire’s relationship with the state-owned bank, the IBRC.
The IBRC is the offspring of the now defunct and disgraced Anglo Irish Bank, the financial institution that almost bankrupted the state through reckless lending to some of the republic’s wealthiest investors.”
And the Irish people have been screwed with increased taxes for the last number of years to pay for this.
Independent TD Catherine Murphy used Dáil parliamentary privilege to question whether O’Brien enjoyed a favourable interest rate of 1.25% with the state-owned bank, when the IBRC should have been charging him up to 7.5%.
If indeed this is the case, then I do think that this in the public interest as we have been bailing out those bloody banks for years.
A number of broadcasting organisations received threatening letters from O’Brien’s lawyers yesterday and did not report Murphy’s remarks in the Dáil.
Murphy, TD for Kildare North, said the favourable interest enabled O’Brien to “pay off his own loans in his own time at low interest rates”. The deal was to enable O’Brien to purchase the Siteserv company, a utility firm that installs controversial water meters across the republic.
And this is another new tax – water tax. We have already been taxed for water twice through other taxes. I got my new water bill today. So, we bail out the banks that loaned money to these wealthy individuals. The bank then gives a great rate of interest to O’Brien to enable him to buy the company that installed our water meter a few months ago so that we can pay more fecking taxes because all of the taxes that we are paying don’t go towards our infrastructure because they all damn well went to Germany.
More later…the pizza just arrived.
RTE ain’t takin’ this lying down.
RTÉ is to make an application to the High Court on 2 June for permission to broadcast statements made in the Dáil about businessman Denis O’Brien by Independent TD Catherine Murphy.
In a statement this afternoon, the broadcaster said it has “consistently maintained that greater levels of disclosure is in the public interest; however we have complied fully with the court’s decision.”
The statement goes on: “we await the outcome of the judge’s ruling on 5 June as regards what level of detail in the court’s judgement can be disclosed.
I’m going to send my water bill back to those feckers and tell them to forward it on to Denis O’Brien, who lives in Malta.
Although he owns up to 20 national and regional newspapers, as well as two major radio stations, O’Brien lives in Malta for tax purposes.
And youse guys thought you had patriots?