Varadkar and O’Brien Met at Davos

By Patrick Brogan


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was questioned about meeting Denis O’Brien at the World Economic Forum in Davos, as reported by The Irish Times. The Taoiseach said he had also met with Tony Blair and various current and former world leaders.

For a lot of Irish people, it will be meeting O’Brien that will stick out. Even in the Dáil there was some skepticism as Paul Murphy TD claimed “He [O’Brien] was there for economic reasons and to maximise profit through political influence”.

While I recognise the importance of members of the political and business world meeting and have good relations, –not least because it is better for job creation–, it must be pointed out that cosy relationships between politicians and businessmen in the past has had a detrimental impact on democracy, and not just in Ireland.

People are suspicious of what goes on at meetings like Davos and the Bilderberg Group because there is no transparency or accountability as to what happens behind closed doors. And there is reason to be cautious when one of these people is Denis O’Brien and his history of corruption in the past.

He clearly has no love of the democratic process and has paid off politicians to get lucrative contracts in the past. We have reported on him extensively in the past; like herehere and here. What had he to gain from this meeting? Is a little transparency too much to ask for?

Then he have the crown prince riding high in the polls, apparently. He has his own ties to the business world. Before he got into his political career full-time, he took part in the Washington Irish Program. This is when the brightest students are whisked away to Washington to meet with influential businesspeople. Again, what does the business world gain from meeting young up and coming politicians? To my mind the answer is clear.


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