HMQ meets DO’B
1 June, 2011
I’m obviously a bit of a weirdo. There I was, expecting to see some negative commentary in the newspapers (and elsewhere) about how inappropriate it was that Denis O’Brien was invited to the big function held in the Convention Centre on Thursday evening two weeks ago. He was even photographed with the Queen. But no, nothing by way of adverse comment in the papers I read, anyway.
You have to admire DO’B for his chutzpah, his liathróidi. But who cleared him to be invited? Sure, the event was hosted by the British Embassy, but it’s not conceivable that they didn’t run their invitation list by either the Department of the Taoiseach or the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Was the Queen of England aware of just how controversial DO’B is?
For those with short memories: our beloved Dáil instituted a sworn enquiry on 11th September 1997, the terms of reference of which included investigation as to “whether any substantial payments were made directly or indirectly to Mr Michael Lowry ….. during any period when he held public office in circumstances giving rise to a reasonable inference that the motive for making the payment was connected with any public office held by him or had the potential to influence the discharge of such office”.
After incurring vast expense to the taxpayer, the tribunal headed by Mr Justice Michael Moriarty issued a report only last March (!) which found inter alia that Lowry had “conferred a benefit on Mr Denis O’Brien, a person who made payments to Mr Lowry, within the meaning of [the tribunal’s] terms of reference”. It found that Mr O’Brien made or facilitated payments to Mr Lowry of £147,000 Sterling, £300,000 Sterling and a benefit equivalent to a payment in the form of Mr O’Brien’s support for a loan of £420,000 Sterling.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said in the Dáil on 29th March: “Previous Tribunals elicited thousands of words…..but pitiful inaction….. by those who sat, then, over here. The new government breaks from that precedent and acts definitively and decisively. We referred the Moriarty Report to the Garda Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecution and the Revenue Commissioners.”
Mr O’Brien has denied any wrongdoing, and the issues dealt with by Moriarty may be tested in some form in a court of law. But in the meantime, surely we are right to expect some circumspection from our political establishment in dealings with Mr O’Brien, and that they should keep him at arm’s length on our behalf.