The last 24 hours (29th May) have demonstrated the truth of 'If you want to know who really rules you find out who you are not allowed to criticise'. As the image shows billionaire media mogul Denis O'Brien has managed to almost completely suppress stories about him in the few outlets he does not control.
Those media outlets he has ownership of seem to have somehow missed TD Catherine Murphy's revelation that somehow O'Brien had managed to only pay 1.25% interest on the 500 million he owed to IBRC (in effect to us) rather than the expected market rate of around 7.5%. The difference costs us about 30 million a year.
This isn't the first story of O'Brien getting a good deal from the IBRC. Almost a year ago the Irish Times reported "in a deal that again involved the writing down of bank debt. O’Brien took a controlling interest after he bought about €304 million of the Topaz Energy Group’s] loans from the State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), in liquidation,for a reported €150 million."
And of course back in March 2012 O'Brien bought Siteserv, again according to the Irish Times "The former plc owed about €150 million to the IBRC .. O’Brien’s bid of €45.42 million in cash won out, leaving the IBRC with a loss on its loan due of about 70 per cent. An unusual part of the deal was that a number of shareholders were to receive €4.96 million between them arising from the transaction. That element of the bid was reportedly aimed at keeping key management on board. This meant the State-owned bank only got €40 million. In the wake of the deal being announced, the unsuccessful bidder, French fund Altrad, said it would have paid €60 million for the group"
Siteserv's clients include Irish Water as tens of thousands or protesters all over the country are very aware. Denis O'Brien has not unsurprisingly become a deeply unpopular figure among water charges activists.
We need to be careful about this. Denis O'Brien isn't the problem, remove him and another Denis O'Brien is already waiting in the wings to step in. Wherever you look in the world there are Denis O'Brien equivalents, ultra wealthy men (they are almost always men and white men at that) who through their wealth and power have vast networks of influence in the media and with politicians.
The world is run in their interests not ours. Through political funding and media control they determine who gets elected and what gets reported. The one bit of good news is that they are not 1.25% of the population or even 1%. That layer of the super wealthy are in fact very few and we are many. But as long as they control wealth, they will control power. It's not a question of reforming the political system but abolishing it and abolishing inequality in every sphere of life so we end the divisions between leaders and led, workers and bosses.
Words: Andrew Flood
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