Denis O’Brien Wallows In Scandalous Mire But Niall O’Dowd Throws Him A Rope

Ed Moloney flags up the moral dig out provided for Denis O'Brien by Niall O'Dowd in New York. Ed Moloney blogs @ The Broken Elbow.

 There are so many new reasons in this recent article in Niall O’Dowd’s Irish Central website to abhor Irish media billionaire Denis O’Brien, apart that is from the sight of O’Dowd, via his flunkie, one James O’Shea, brown-nosing another member of the 0.1 per cent.

One is the praise heaped on O’Brien’s head by one William Jefferson Clinton, former president of the United States and husband of the Democratic Party’s  likely candidate in the presidential contest of 2016, Hillary Clinton.

It is of course just by chance that Niall O’Dowd’s publications, on and off-line, are unsparing in their praise of Hillary or that Mr O’Dowd’ ambitions to be the Clintons’ ambassador to Ireland in a couple of years can only be helped by such displays of obsequiousness. (The real O’Dowd wet dream, of course, would happen if at the same time that he took tenancy of the ambassadorial lodge, one G Adams became Taoiseach, or failing that Tanaiste! Now that’s what I call a threesome!)

According to Irish Central, Clinton praised O’Brien for a plan to make cash transactions available to poor people via cell phones, calling the plan “the number one idea in changing the world”.

Leaving aside the fact that O’Brien, via his vast ownership of cell phone companies, would take a nice slice out of every call, the mind boggles at the image of starving wretches in Calcutta checking their bank balances on their mobiles before collapsing lifeless in the gutter!

But here’s the humdinger line in O’Shea’s embarrassing blow job for O’Brien:
For a man described by Clinton as changing the world more than anyone else for the betterment of the poor, recent negative press provides a dizzying contrast.

What James O’Shea neglects to tell his readers is that Clinton has another, less than altruistic reason for thinking the sun shines out of Denis O’Brien’s rear end. It was revealed by the excellent McClatchy newspaper group back in February, 2015 in a piece devoted to identifying donors to the increasing controversial Clinton Foundation:

Mohammed Al-Amoudi, a billionaire businessman who lives in Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia, retired German race car driver Michael Schumacher, and Denis O’Brien, the Irish chairman of Digicel phone company, each donated between $5 million and $10 million.

So O’Shea’s line really should have read:

For a man described by Clinton as changing the world more than anyone else for the betterment of Bill Clinton, recent negative press provides a dizzying contrast.

And, according to a recent expose of the Clinton Foundation in The New York Times, when O’Brien scratches the Clintons’ back, they scratch his:

……the Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, is a multimillion-dollar supporter of the Clinton Foundation and whose parent telecommunications company benefited from grants from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department.

None of this, of course, appeared or will ever appear in any of Niall O’Dowd’s publications. And quite right too. How else is the man expected to end up in the Phoenix Park?!

However, the really shocking fact unveiled by Irish Central, the Aha Moment of the story of O’Brien’s clawing journey up the greasy pole, that convinced me that we had all understated the billionaire’s skills in the financial black arts, was this revelation: “……(he) studied business at Boston College.” Of course! How could I have missed that?! Everything now becomes clear.

By any chance was Jack Dunn one of his chums at BC, I wonder?

Clinton’s close friend Denis O’Brien battles massive criticism in Ireland

Former United States President Bill Clinton and Irish businessman Denis O’Brien. Photo by:

Former president Bill Clinton wrote in a September 2012 Time Magazine cover story that Irish businessman Denis O’Brien’s move to make cash transactions available for the poorest in the world via cell phones was the number one idea in changing the world.

The Time cover story featuring Clinton holding a globe is entitled “5 Ideas that are changing the World” and O’Brien’s idea was rated tops.
It must have been a heady moment for the Dublin-born O’Brien (57) who studied business at Boston College.

As a businessman O’Brien is high up the Forbes list. His net worth was estimated at $6.7 billion thanks mostly to his stock in his cell phone company Digicel. But it is as a philanthropist that he has become increasingly well known.

Also in 2012, The New York Times published a glowing front page report on O’Brien’s work in Haiti in which O’Brien was described as leading the international efforts to restore the economy there.

Forbes wrote:
O’Brien received the National Order of Honor and Merit from the Haitian president for his work helping Haiti recover from the 2010 earthquake. He funded the restoration of Haiti’s century-old Iron Market with his own money, and has built 50 primary and secondary schools in the last 18 months.

In Irish American circles he is best known for his staunch support of the American Ireland Fund and also the Third World charity Concern, where he is a leading benefactor.

O’Brien is Ireland’s
leading philanthropist – but now also one of the most reviled figures there.

It is an extraordinary paradox that surrounds his business success – how he made his fortune and now how he is handling revelations about his banking and business affairs.

For a man described by Clinton as changing the world more than anyone else for the betterment of the poor recent negative press provides a dizzying contrast.

Over the past few weeks in Ireland there has been massive criticism of O’Brien after he went to court to prevent RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster, reporting on his banking relationship with IBRC, the successor bank to Anglo Irish Bank, which was at the center of the banking scandal that almost bankrupted Ireland.

An activist member of parliament, Catherine Murphy, claimed in the Dail (Parliament) that O’Brien had received massive loans up to $500 million at an interest rate of 1.5 percent and that that revelation was at the heart of the
RTE story.

O’Brien strongly denied that Murphy’s claim was true as did Mike Aynsley the former CEO of IBRC who described that information as “grossly inaccurate.”

The government has established a commission of inquiry to discover what the true facts of the matter are. Murphy is sticking to her guns that her statements are accurate.

O’Brien’s move to muzzle RTE and later to seek to use the injunction to prevent Murphy’s speech made in the Dail under privilege from being reported created a storm of controversy and criticism.

Because Ireland lacks a first amendment it is a very litigious society. Another billionaire, Dermot Desmond, recently threatened to sue after being photographed at a funeral when he did not want to be. But seeking to silence a speaker in the national parliament was seen as a move too far by many commentators.

The IBRC loan was the latest in a perfect storm of controversy for O’Brien, who also is the major shareholder in Independent Newspapers.

One of his many companies, Siteserv, received the contract to install the hated Irish Water meters, which have been the subject of numerous mass demonstrations as the government seeks to raise tax revenues by charging for water.
O’Brien invested in several Irish companies in recent times explaining that vulture capitalists were stripping Irish assets and he wanted Irish companies to retain Irish shareholders. One of those companies was Siteserv and there have also been allegations he paid under the odds for it.

He provides over 10,000 jobs in Ireland, but the recent controversies have damaged much of the goodwill he should have enjoyed.

In a piece defending his legal and business moves and his right to privacy on his bank accounts O’Brien wrote that a close friend warned him he would get “dog’s abuse” if he purchased Irish businesses, something that has certainly come to pass.

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