By Patrick Brogan
Denis O’Brien has been ordered to pay legal costs relating to his case against the Clerk of the Dáil and the Irish State over comments made by Social Democrats‘ Catherine Murphy and Pearce Doherty of Sinn Féin under parliamentary privilege.
Although it is not difficult to be sympathetic to somebody that had their business splashed all over the newspapers, what O’Brien was accused of doing was relevant to the Irish State. Catherine Murphy told the Dáil that she had information that Denis O’Brien had a loan repayment at 1.25%, rather than the normal rate of 7.5%. An important factor in all of this is the bank the loan was with. It was the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), or Anglo-Irish as it formerly was.
This is significant to Irish people because their taxpayer money saved this institution from collapse. Therefore, the Irish people are the major stakeholder of this company. The fact that O’Brien managed to get this to court is a little bit disturbing. In what other circumstances would a stakeholder be left out of what is in going the company? And then when this information became public, somebody would take out an injunction to stop it being reported? Surely this must fall under some criminal act.
Outside of what happened with O’Brien in relation to his bank loans, this would have impacted on freedom of speech in this country. O’Brien already has control of a huge chunk of the media in this country, now he wants to silence politicians. If this case had have gone in the businessman’s favour, democracy would have been dealt a major blow.