St. Denis

By | February 14, 2008

We should send him Valentine Cards. What a guy. Why let money stand in the way of Ireland getting the best? Truly hath no man greater love for his country than to pay for a first class soccer manager.*

*we’ll leave the tax bit out of it for now.

44 thoughts on “St. Denis

  1. An Spailpín Fánach

    “We’ll leave the tax bit out for now”? You’ve been hammering Bertie about non-linear relations with Revenue all year – sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander, surely?

  2. Rob Hickey

    If he doesn’t want anything in return why didnt he just donate anonymously?

    He was on drive time last night – he owns Newstalk so we can expect his name to be lauded and “O’Brien” was writen on every newspaper this morning.

    This man is ruthless and already there is controversy – he offered the cash before Staunton was sacked but Delaney says he was only offered it in November.

    What a guy my arse

    (I am glad we got Trapatoni though)

  3. Sarah Post author

    Well Denis’s tax status is unethical but quite legal. Same can’t be said for Bertie…

    As for the details on the FAI, what does it matter? He told Delaney, get the best, don’t worry about the cash. We got a great manager. Let’s not grumble :-)

  4. crocodile

    And next time there are negotiations about broadcasting rights for Ireland games…?

  5. An Spailpín Fánach

    “Well Denis’s tax status is unethical but quite legal. Same can’t be said for Bertie”

    Does this mean that it’s your opnion that Bertie’s tax status is ethical but quite illegal Sarah? Oh dear – I hope there are no learned friends reading this. They’ll be choking on their peasant sandwiches. :)

    I believe that An Taoiseach is fully compliant to the laws of the land myself, My Lord. :)

    For my own part, I don’t think there’s anything particularly unethical about where Denis O’Brien chooses to live. That’s entirely up to himself. I think the FAI have made a peculiar business decision, a decision from which Denis will fully reap the benefits in the fullness of time. The persistent naivety of people in this country, especially in regard to the business of professional sport, is a daily source of wonder to me.

  6. Sarah Post author

    The different categories

    – legal but unethical – tax exiles
    – illegal and unethical – politicians on the take
    – illegal but ethical? – hmmm any ideas?
    oh and of course
    – legal and ethical – most of us (and Denis would argue him too).

    But such begrudgery! Let us rejoice in our first class manager and dream of glory days again!

  7. Paul

    Sarah, you are aquainted with Dennis. So what has Dennis ever given to you, personally ( and of a financial nature) ?

  8. P O'Neill

    There’s no truth to the rumour that the Moriarty Tribunal is expanding its remit to examine the role of Denis in getting Stan sacked.

  9. Sarah Post author

    hee hee PO’Neill

    Paul – why does Denis have had to given me anything? Such cynicism…

    You know, this applies across the board: when you don’t know someone its very easy to assume the worst about them. I do know Denis. Don’t assume the worst about him!

  10. Joseph

    The facts of the matter are as follows:

    1 On the face of things Ireland has got a first rate manager. However it might be worth noting that his record as a manager of countries is less than glorious by comparison with his manager positions at club level. Add to this his age and the fact that he is known to be ultra cautious [= dull?] and has lots and lots of draws for his teams past, then just maybe people may be very disappointed before too long? Either way the hype around this guy may build up far too high expectations? And what will be said if and when it all goes sour? Well for now we can all agree (?) that we have a man well suited for the job who will do good for the national team and it was the best option available maybe?

    2 The whole business of D O Brien stinks to high hell. All those who are silly and naive enough to swallow the line being put out are only falling into the simple minded trap set by the likes of O Brien. The fact is that he is a decidedly bad business man who through highly questionable circumstances was able to acquire a vast amount of money totally out of proportion to anything he has ever done or been responsible for himself. He was in effect given a license to print his own money such was the good fortune he had in terms of timing. Any fool would have been able to make the money he made in such circumstances. Added to his previous history of failed business enterprises and the fact that he is in effect a silver spoon child the way he was lionized and hailed as some sort of a business hero was nothing but a reflection of the perverted nature and duplicity of Irish society.

    Nobody should begrudge a man success of course but to misrepresent a man as something he clearly is and was not is just wrong and insulting to all those who actual achieve things of real value in life. This man is someone I would tend to feel sorry for almost and certainly someone I would deter any of my children from becoming like. He is an example of all that is wrong and sick in society, though he is not to blame for this [hence my feeling somewhat sorry for him]

    He is a fat cat in the true sense and as phoney and fake as you can get . Had he wanted to help Irish football he could easily do so and hsi name would not ever need to be mentioned! Not that he should be attacked for giving his country back a fraction of the money he legally denied the country when in one of the most disgraceful acts of greed and hypocrisy he declared himself as living outside of ireland for the purposes of saving about 50 million in tax payments he would have had to pay had he just been honest.

    Instead of paying this paltry amount [ by comparison with the personal profit fortune he made] he decided to be the very epitome of greed and hypocrisy.

    We can only wish that such scoundrels are ore and more seen for exactly what they are.The idea that you {Sarah] can and would equate Ireland getting a football manager like trapo as having anything to do with O Brien or that we should somehow be glad or grateful for his involvement is most disappointing because it is in the first place an illusion!

    We would have got Trapo regardless of O Briens involvement and in fact the way this little dram plays out is that a donation to the value of …. to the FAI would have been the same thing as opposed to the pretend specifics of O Brien paying the bill [part of] for Trapoa contract.

    O Brien is not an honorable man at all he is a big fat cat chancer who shows few natural talents of any real value. He should not be criticized for this per say, only in reaction to the fact that he is often held up as something good or positive and hailed as a big man etc etc. He is nothing of the sort! he may not be a bad man, but he is NO HERO!

    He is an Irish version of the likes of the various Russian Oligarchs, nothing more! Again as you say he has done nothing illlegal [that we know about or can prove yet!]

  11. Paul Newton

    An Spailpín Fánach said “the persistent naivety of people in this country, especially in regard to the business of professional sport, is a daily source of wonder to me”

    never a truer word said Spailpín, there are also people who think that 02 sponsor the rugby team and Guinness the All Ireland out of some altrustic streak.

    But I’ve never seen this clearer than watching Cork people out on the street recently in support of the players, what do the players want, ask any of them and they’ll tell you they want semi professionalism, is this what the people want.. to have to pay Setanta €15 per game to see sean og… it’s like turkeys voting for Christmas. People need to decide what sort of GAA they want.

  12. Sarah Post author

    Gee, talk about a sense of humour deficit.


    (though sports sponsorship is another issue).

    hmm maybe the team will have to wear a picture of Denis on their shirts.

    now that would be funny :-)

  13. Zara

    What does he stand to gain? Apart from publicity which he hardly needs. I don’t trust him but in a throw up between himself and AJF O’Reilly, I’d pick St. Denis any time.

  14. Sarah Post author

    ooh well, it looks like Eircom aren’t happy about it! Some one at the Herald thought to call them up. Eircom refused to confirm if they were going to renew their sponsorship! Now if O’Reilly was still the owner a new conspiracy theory could emerge…

  15. Laura

    Why is being a tax exile unethical? There is nothing wrong with chosing to domicile yourself in a jurisdiction with a more favourable tax regime. It is sensible.

    If Denis O’Brien was an artist he’d only attract a 10% tax rate. The Government’s lack of consistency for different sources of immense wealth would drive anyone to be a tax exile. ((Take U2, Enya, Westlife and the Corrs – huge wealth, ridiculous exemptions from the full rate of tax).

  16. Joseph

    If he was an artist he would be producing something!

    As it is he produces nothing!

    Does anyone think that he alone deserved the hundreds of millions he got from the sell off? In the same way that a footballer is grossly overpaid society is structured in such a way as to allow these sort of anomalies which see people get amounts of money which are out of whack with anything they might door claim to be of value. I don’t attack the likes of O brien for that but rather I do not applaud him or lionize him either he is as I said merely an Irish version of the likes of the various Russian Oligarchs, nothing more!

    Again as has been said he has done nothing illegal [that we know about or can prove yet!] but this latest drama is nothing but a con job. When someone like him gives away money publicly there are always strings attached or and agenda going on. We just need to be aware of this.

    As for it not been unethical to exploit and opportunistically use the law to avoid having to pay tax when you have just made hundreds of millions from the same said country you now which to declare your not living in?

    There is such a thing as the spirit of the law as well as the letter of the law. Given human weakness and greed, humans almost always end up using and abusing the law by following only the letter of the law when it suits them as if this absolves them from responsibility for their actions .

    In the case of the tax exile thing well one can imagine if a guy was genuinely leaving abroad [for most of the time which one assumes meets with the number of days stipulated in a law and that such a person happens to be doing business here which makes huge amounts of money and the person just does things by the book and upon finding that he does not have to do a b or c because of the circumstance he happens to be in. This is in stark contrast with people who get [pay for] the best advice to circumvent the laws and taxes of his native country.

    Mostly this would not be a big deal as most people don’t make huge amounts of profit but when it comes to what Denis O brien done well I happen to have a very poor view of him and his actions in this regard?

    He may be a very nice man/person for all know but if I am to judge his character from what has been in the public domain and his known actions well then I simply don’t have a high opinion of him or anyone who acts in a similar way.

    Great business men and really impressive charcters have so much more to offer us.

  17. Laura

    I was neither applauding nor lionising Denis O’Brien.

    My simple point was there are very unfair anomalies in the Irish tax system for very wealthy people.

    I can see why some of the very wealthy would choose to be resident elsewhere for tax purposes. If everyone of enormous wealth were treated equally then he might have chosen to stay. One really doesn’t know.

    As for the awarding of the licence that enabled Denis O’Brien to become extraordinarily wealthy, it’s not as though he came from a bench by the canal with a beer can in his hand and was given the license for free. He had established business relatonships and successful businesses long before then. He also hasn’t been resting on his laurels and spending his money, he went on to build successful companies in the Caribbean.

    I’m not trying to defend the man, but two or three million is not a huge amount of money when you are Denis O’Brien. Maybe he just got sick of the shambolic nature of Irish football.

    Maybe he does have an ulterior motive. Lets hope it’s not about tickets (Eddie Jordan gets him those – or they go to the matches together at any rate), lets hope it’s about staging a coup in the FAI and getting rid of some of the muppets running that organisation. If he is after a pound of flesh, then it’s probably to do with removal of dead wood.

  18. Sarah Post author

    He employed and still employs a lot of people in this country. I was asked earlier what he ever gave me – a job – when they were very few going. He wasn’t ‘handed’ a licence. He started a company with his own money and employed some smart people to introduce telecoms competition in Ireland. The government had to be forced, personally by him and his team of lawyers to introduce competition. Anyone who doesn’t remember that is either very young or very forgetful.

    The conspiracy theories are petty begrudgery. He wants to see Ireland do well and doesn’t see why money should get in the way. You couldn’t keep something like that a secret so you might as well announce it from the top. The negativity about it today makes me despair of the Irish.

  19. John of Dublin

    I’m amazed at all this negativity towards Denis O’Brien. He has generated huge tax revenues for this country though employments he has created,company VAT receipts and corporation taxes etc.. I can assure you that the man was revered and respected by all his employees in Esat. And how many of us would take the huge entrepreneurial risks that this guy did. Read his history. His ventures were full of bankruptsy flirting risks. It’s brave guys like this who create real wealth for countries. Then he does a generous act for the Irish soccer team and we whinge. His tax affairs? If he uses legal tax efficient measures to reduce his own tax bill, why not? If it was you or I in his shoes we would also feel it completely disproportionate for one person to be paying out half of such a large income he has earned to the Government. He’s only working the law. We are all entitled to try to emulate his achievements and wealth. I’m not calling him a saint. He’s out to improve his own wealth like all of us – he just happens to be a master at it. But there is certainly no cause for being critical of the man giving a big donation to the national soccer team.

  20. The Crewser

    Denis O’Brien has worked bloody hard and has earned his money both in Ireland and outside it. He deserves to be applauded for this generous gesture. Not too many tycoons who inherited fortunes would do what he as done.

  21. Rob Hickey

    And whats that then… buy a Government minister? Buy the FAI?

    As an Irish football fan I’m delighted that we have Trapattoni, don’t get me wrong (spelliing could be wrong but so was the FAI’s…). I think we’re in for a real treat over the next few years – the man is known to speak his mind and will no doubt entertain. Football results will certainly improve as well. But there is something a little bit dodgy about the deal. Like I said earlier – if all he cares about is Irish soccer – why is he letting everyone know he did it? Vanity?

    Delaney is in O’Brien’s pocket now or at the very least his position has been made untenable.

    The FAI is a joke organisation though so this probably makes no difference anyway…

  22. Margaret

    he let everyone know about it, so that later when it would of course become public knowledge, it would raise a lot of questions from the big conspiracy theorists as to why the big secret

  23. Gordon Davies

    The problem is not Denis O’Brien. He is merely, with a high dose of cynicism an hypocrisy, taking advantage of the Government’s highly ambiguous attitude to tax exiles.

    Tax exiles have opted out of the common citizen’s obligation to contribute to the running of the country, building and maintaining schools, hospitals, drains, roads and providing public services. Tax exiles have decided that all this is not their reponsibilty.

    Tax exiles are allowed to flit in and out of the country – often using Weston Airport run by a multiple recidivist in planning infringements – with little or no control by the Revenue or the Garda. The rules governing tax exile status are so lax that they can spend a great deal of time in this country.

    I would suggest that there should be toughening up of the status of tax exiles:

    They should not be allowed to vote,
    They should bve obliged to enter and leave the country only through fully manned Customs and Immigration points;
    The time they are permitted to stay in the country should be extremely limited;
    They should not be permitted to contribute to political parties, all other donations should be registered with the Revenue.

    Fundamentally, tax exiles have opted out of their obligations as a citizen ,and their responsibilty of solidarity with their fellow citizens. The advantages of citizenship should therefore be restricted.


  24. Daniel K.

    Interesting no one has noted that the FAI is only following the lead of the GAA in that a number of counties have used the largesse of supporters clubs (including quit wealthy individuals) to fund the “expenses” of managers. I bet Micko would have been able to do it for half the cost.

  25. Graham

    I’m sickened by the negativity towards such a donation. I fully agree with the crewser, DOB has worked hard both in Ireland and outside to amass his personal wealth and his donation should be gratefully received. To suggest that such a donation leaves Delaney under his influence is ridiculous and most likely, I think, part of the reason for the very public nature of the donation. It would be a very different story if the whole affair had been kept secret.

    There is a huge difference between donations given publicly and those given secretly in brown envelopes to elected officials.
    To suggest that tax exiles are opting out of their citizens obligations is ridiculous. Everyone tries to reduce their tax burden legally. Where the potential savings are so vast, it makes sense to do all that is necessary, including domicile abroad, to achieve this.

    How many will be willing to forgo private health insurance and pay more taxes to have a properly run public health service accessible to all in society?

  26. laura

    Gordon, if Denis O’Brien came through Dublin Airport do you think that he would be subjected to “properly manned” customs and immigration points?

    The Gardai at the passport points in Dublin Airport barely glance at Irish passports. Walking through the blue channel you are rarely if ever challenged. So, Weston or Dublin airport – it would make no difference. Lots of people in Ireland enjoy freedom of movement with very little checking, be it through ports or airports. What you suggest appears to be that Denis O’Brien should be forced through certain, specially created for the wealthy checkpoints. Why?

    The Revenue stipulates this:

    You are resident for tax purposes for a year if:

    * You spend 183 days or more in Ireland in that year from 1 January : 31 December or,
    * You have spent a total of 280 days in Ireland, taking both that year and the previous year into account. In this case, you must be resident for a minimum of 30 days in each year.

    Each day you are present at midnight counts as one day for resident tax purposes. The law on tax residence can be found in Sections 819-824 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

    Are you quite certain that Denis O’Brien is in Ireland for more than the specified 183 days? Where is your hard evidence and fact? If you don’t have hard evidence, maybe you should think before you write that he is acting outside the law. That could be considered as libel.

  27. Gordon Davies

    The point is that no one knows, as there is little or no control on private jets flying from smaller airports. All this was admitted by the Revenue and the Garda when drugs were found on a private jet flying in and out of Weston.

    At Dublin Airport, I present my passport at checkin, I also present it to Immigration as I enter the country. If there was an issue about my passage through the airport the data is available. The blue channel has nothing to do with immigration control, You have been cleared by Immigration before collecting your baggage.

    Private airports do not have permanent immigration control, and it appears difficult to establish reliably when Irish citizens leave or arrive.

    I note that you do not answer my main point – a citizen who chooses not to contribute to the functioning of the country (not an overly onerous burden for the highest earners) should not continue to receive the full benefits of such citizenship. “No taxation without representation”… and vice versa.


  28. Laura

    Gordon, you mentioned customs and immigration (not me).

    Hence the blue channel reference. The blue/green/red channel is where customs are.

    As for immigration/passport control, never in all the times I have been through dublin airport has an immigration official done anything other than take a cursory glance at the passport open in my hand as I walk through. They have never stopped me. They have never asked for my passport, they have never scanned it.

    As for Denis O’Brien not contributing to the functioning of the country – do companies operating in Ireland in which he has an interest in not pay taxes? I thought that the did. I must be mistaken. They pay PRSI also.

    Taxes attributable to him through his shares in companies probably contribute more to the functioning of the country than you or I do.

  29. Tomaltach

    In the end this boils down to, how should we tax the rich? First, what kind of tax burden should they bear? And how flexible can we be in terms of residency?

    There is obviously a balance to be struct between taking tax for redistributive reasons and not ‘stiffling business’. The trouble is that the rich keep using the argument that tax hurts business which hurts the economy and costs jobs. But surely that logic has its limits.

    The other dimension is the issue of tax havens. And here, no progress can be made without the help of the bigger countries. And frankly, their rich elites are not going to allow a clampdown – though for example some progress was made between France and Monaco in the 80s where they signed an agreement that stipulated that French people working there would have to pay French taxes. (I cannot site the details of the agreement but basically it seems the French wanted to clamp down on tax cheating via monaco). But in general, the large countries tolerate their tax havens – their British Virgin Islands, or Jersey, or Monaco, or Lichtenstein, and so on. Of course, there is no clear definition of what a tax haven is – but broadly speaking they are easy enough to identify. Is Ireland with it’s low corporate tax a tax haven? For some, say the German tax payer, they might see it that way. The truth is it is always going to be hard to tax the super rich. But that should not stop us from trying – all we need to do is make sure we don’t scare them off. But hey, we won’t. There is no danger of that as long as we don’t raise punitive taxes.

    In Ireland though, we cannot speak out of both sides of our mouth. Saying we want international help to close off havens while at the same time saying that any form of corporate tax harmonisation in Europe is intolerable. The Europeans would say we just want to remove tax regimes which are more generous than our own. We cannot have it both ways.

  30. Gordon Davies


    Before you get on a plane your identity has been established, passenger manifests are available, and examined. Immigration knows who is coming in. Immigration controls at large airports are efficient – that is not the case at some of our smaller airports. The residency rules for tax exiles may or may not be infringed, as I remember it, when a Dail question was asked the Minister had to admit that the Revenue did not monitor entries and departures effectively.

    O’Brien’s companies may contribute to the exchequer here. That is not my point. When an individual citizen choses to organise his personal financial affairs so that he does not contribute, from his PERSONAL income, to the running of the country of which he is a citizen, why should that individual expect to continue to enjoy the full benefits of that citizenship.


  31. Joseph

    The comments by Sarah are both infantile and delusional!

    have you such little self respect self worth?

    O Brien is by no means either an honorable man or impressive man. stating this has nothing to do with being a begrudger or negative.

    He is who he is and IT AIN’T IMPRESSIVE!

    He had a series of failed business before the phone scandal/shame and he was a silver spoon child of a rich family.

  32. Sarah Post author

    riiiiiight. So he started and failed with two companies, learned from his mistakes and went on to set up dozens of other companies which employ thousands of people around the world and from which he has amassed huge personal wealth and wealth for others….

    the fact that people assume he is not honourable simply shows the lack of justice he has gotten from the Irish state – it is casually assumed by most that the awarding of the licence was corrupt. I have said before, on this blog, in the paper and to his face, that I don’t approve of the tax exile thing, but quite frankly, given the treatment he has gotten, I think he owes Ireland very little.

  33. Sarah Post author

    Him directly about a year. Digifone another…two years? We talk every now and then. I’ve no problem telling him when I think he’s wrong about something but rants like that from Joseph are completely unfair and simply untrue. The tax exile thing IS an issue but pretending he hasn’t achieved anything is silly.

  34. laura


    I look forward to the time when you have ammassed the same fortune as Denis O’Brien. Then you live rather than preach your holier than thou stance. i.e. only fly on scheduled flights, only use properly manned airports, only reside in Ireland, pay every penny of tax, contribute to various organisations publically (if you so wish) and privately and you can publish your comings and goings so we can all know exactly how many nights a year you spend in Ireland.

    Denis O’Brien is not unique in basing himself elsewhere for tax purposes. Why are you not ranting about all the other tax exiles also?

    BTW, unless you actually know for a fact and have documented evidence that Denis O’Brien stays in Ireland for more than 183 nights a year, you are still libelling him.

    A man who has global business interests should be able to base himself where he likes. Luckily for us we live in a democracy and the laws of our country allow us to domilice ourselves elsewhere.

    The argument that he should relinquish his citizenship as he is not contibuting to the exchequer out of his own personal wealth is just a tad extreme. If you think as draconian a measure as that is necessary for the super wealthy, can we have the same measure for all the long time dole suckers please?. They don’t contribute. Stay at home parents, non-contributory pensioners, lets take away all their passports and citizenship rights also. Your argument is that those who don’t contribute don’t deserve citizenship. (Unless you think it is just Denis O’Brien who should be singled out for his lack of contribution – is it just Denis O’Brien? Why such a personal vendetta against him? What did he ever do to you?)

  35. Gerry

    i think the sticking point for a lot pf people laura is that Denis O’Brien is choosing how he pays his own tax. As do a lot of the super rich. We applaud when they dedicate a wing to a hospital or a dept in a university or a manager to a football team. But really this is vanity taxation. If they were paying 40% like the rest of us then they would have contributed much more and, like the rest of us, those we elect would choose how the money is invested (for all the wrongs and rights of that).

    In London the super rich who pay no tax and contribute in no meaningful way that I can see to the society of London are threatening mass emigration of forced to pay £30,000 p.a. Total as a fixed sum. This in a city where someone has bought a flat for £100 million!

    There is no easy answer as to what’s fair for the super rich to pay, when they completely mobile and can move to the most tax beneficial location. At the same time though, I see little to be grateful for when they buy Chelsea, build another monument-to-greed apartment building or clog the roads with ferraris or bestow another bauble of vanity on a too grateful people.

  36. Joseph

    I dont think my “rant” is unfair by any means. It is simply the case that he is not somebody I would have any great respect for but I have said that I don’t know him personally and don’t wish him ill on any personal level.

    I dont want to be pigeon holed into being seen as an attacker of his but rather Iam reacting to HIS choice to PUT HIMSELF into the public domain and as was so well pointed out by John Burns in your own paper yesterday when you add it all up and examine there is much to be concerned about and disapprove of, more than any joy or approval for OBriens gesture/ PR stunt/ interference.

    He may just be a misguided man but contrary to what you have said rather than it being a simple case of him not being a particularly good businessman and then learning from this to go on and do better the reality is that he comes from a very privileged background and after being a failure he was given the phone thing which was ,owing to the timing etc a license to print money and he made his “fortunate” all from the sale of the phone company from which he then went on to make more money. Well it would take a bit of an idiot not to have succeeded given the circumstances that OBrien found himself in. So while I would not begrudge the man his good fortune I merely resent when it it thrown back [as it was at the time through the media which went OTT] that he is anything special or to be admired. His tax thing only confirmed what a dubious character he is [in my mind]

    I can state clearly that [and this does not make me any beter a man] had i been in the same situation I would have been onlyto glad to pay my appropriate share of tax to the country which I was a citizen of and from which I made a fortune. The again I admit the sort of GREED that is required to do what OBrien did is just not in my nature?

    It is only a perspective I am offering [albeit a strongly held and at times indignant one] and maybe I am overlooking many thigns or even wrong about OBrien and his ilk? I keep an open mind!.

    What disappointed me was the sheep like way people seem so grateful for so little. As far as I am concerned you [sarah] have a far greater value to me in irish society than Obrien ever could. You seem like an intelligent conscientious fair minded person. Have lots to offer as a mother and a wife as you document and write with wit and insight while from what I gather also a person of great integrity too.

    Now my point in saying that is to underline and illustrate that as a fellow citizen and fellow human I can admire and respect you for just who you are and what you have accomplished [as a human being – being a decent person ] but I would find it alot harder to take such a view towards a man like Obrien [though I try to keep an open mind] who seems like someone that would make me very suspicious of him and many of his actions/deeds.

    I freely admit I might be wrong? But hey I am just giving my strident perspective. It all depends how we value and appreciate people in our society and I admit I am probably very unusual? I would see value and inspiration in places where perhaps we are conditioned to seeing banality.

    A mother and father who raise a bunch of kids and retain their innate sense of right and wrong? People who feel too uncomfortable to screw over people for their own personal advancement etc etc. Yes it sounds idealistic and I dont say I or we collectively can live up to all this but it is surely worth it to try at least see things as they really are.

    Oh and BTW I also disagreed with much of what you wrote in the Sunday Times yesterday but it was as usual a well written piece. Plus well meaning.

  37. Laura

    Gerry I don’t think it is just the super rich who don’t pay their taxes. Ireland has a culture of tax avoidance. You only have to read about settlements with the revenue to realise this. The little people are also avoiding tax. Consider all the people in the country who contribute to the black economy by paying their housekeepers, window cleaners, au-pairs, tradesmen e.t.c. in cash only. There are countless fiddlers of the system. What about all the shopkeepers, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, panel beaters, publicans e.t.c. who keep two sets of books? I would doubt very much that there is anyone in this country who hasn’t at some stage conducted what could be considered to be a dodgy tax transaction, (Gordon aside).

    Yes, of course it would be nicer for Denis O’Brien to pay all his taxes but the simple fact is he is breaking no law by choosing to be domiciled elsewhere. The tax legislation in this country allows that. Yes, it would be more honourable for him to be domiciled in Ireland. I don’t agree with statements that he should be denied his citizenship just because he bases himself outside the country. He is not a criminal. He is just really really wealthy and he minimises his tax liability in Ireland by following revenue guidlines to avoid a tax bill here. :-)

  38. Andrew

    Irony: when the Lansdowne Rd project – vital to the future of the FAI – was in danger of stalling, the most difficult obstacle in its way was the refusal of one of the tenants, Wanderers Rugby Club, to do a deal on vacating its clubhouse. Which wealthy businessman and Wanderers member was at the centre of their delaying tactics? That’s right: St. Denis.

  39. Gerry

    but laura you are not getting the point of people’s annoyance. people *may* be annoyed that he avoids tax, albeit legally. They *are* annoyed that this money saved by avoiding tax is then paid on a vanity project like Trappatoni and we’re supposed to be grateful.

  40. Leon

    Weston is problematic and should be closed (indeed I thought that it was no longer legal for private jets to land there). O’Brien can live wherever he wants. Surely we do not demand that all Irish citizens live in Ireland. If he is claiming a residency status that he is not entilted to claim then he breaking the law but there is no proof that he is.

    He had to be public wrt Trappatoni because if he was quiet about it we would all assume that he was up to something didgy.

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