‘It’s Important People Stand Up For Democracy’



His Master’s Voice: Denis O’Brien (top) and James Morrissey (above)

Constitutional crisis?

What constitutional crisis?

Denis O’Brien’s tireless spokesman James Morrissey went on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke [hosted by Keelin Shanley] this morning to put forward his client’s case for wishing to prevent media outlets reporting Catherine Murphy’s speech to the dáil yesterday.

Keelin Shanley: “We spoke to Fianna Fail TD Billy Kelleher who has called for the Dáil to be recalled to discuss the restrictions on reporting what Independent TD Catherine Murphy said in the Dáil yesterday, in relation to Denis O’Brien and his dealings with IBRC and of course it can only be recalled by the Taoiseach. Well, James Morrissey, advisor to Denis O’Brien has contacted us and he joins me now on the line. Morning, James Morrissey. I suppose your reaction to what Billy Kelleher had to say and what he said was that the fundamental principal of a TD being able to stand up, to speak on an issue and that that could then be reported is the cornerstone of our democracy. He said anything that undermines that is an attack on democracy. What would you say to that?”

James Morrissey: “Well there’s only one thing that deputy Kelleher left out in his interview with you on that issue. And it was: does that allow Dáil privilege to include people to say whatever they like about people – be they correct or incorrect. And I think it’s a little bit rich of Deputy Kelleher to call for the Dáil to be recalled and, as I understand it, Micheal Martin has called for the same. They never did that when this country was going down the tubes and we were losing tens of tens of billions and I think that Dáil privilege most certainly has a very, very important role in our society and in our democracy but I don’t think it should be allowed be used, or abused, where falsehoods are represented or misrepresented as facts, as has happened in the Dáil in the last 24 hours.”

Shanley: “Well, I mean we are injuncted on this. We cannot go into what is or isn’t being said in the Dáil. Just remind us why Denis O’Brien went to court in the first place, to seek the injunction.”

Morrissey: “On a point of principle on the basis that every individual is entitled to privacy, in relation to their banking affairs.”

Shanley: “And in fairness, on the issue of Dáil privilege, I mean Billy Kelleher was very clear in saying that he absolutely believes that there should be a sanction on any TD who abused Dáil privilege. He said it was something that needed to be respected. But the basic issue there of one body of the State, the courts, being used in order to prevent another body of the State, the Dáil, elected by the people, from being reported by the media. Is that not a worrying development in terms of democracy?”

Morrissey: “There always has been a separation of powers. But a fundamental core principle of a democracy is the right of every individual to their good name and reputation and privacy in matters that are private.”

Shanley: “Ok, now, writing on the issue in this morning’s Guardian newspaper, Roy Greenslade said that the owner of the bulk of Ireland’s media outlets is using an injunction to prevent reports on his affairs appearing in the rest of the media, that he doesn’t control. Clearly, he says, there are questions to ask about press freedom implications due to Ireland’s lack of media plurality and diversity. What would you say to that?”

Morrissey: “Well, Keelin, at the end of the day, the largest media entity in Ireland is RTÉ.”


Shanley: “But the idea that RTÉ in this particular case has been injuncted, has been silenced on this issue. I mean do you think that there is a worrying issue here, the fact that it’s being reported by Roy Greenslade in The Guardian. Do you see any issue around that?”

Morrissey: “Well I think Roy Greenslade has, if you look at his record, it’s a little bit dubious on some of the arguments he’s taken up on issues in the past. But to the core issue: every individual, and I repeat, are entitled to their good name and reputation and privacy. Would you like to see your banking matters being published in a newspaper? I wouldn’t. And I think the vast majority of people wouldn’t. If there is wrongdoing involved – let that be examined and investigated. But until such, as there’s a view that there is wrongdoing involved, then a person is entitled to their good reputation.

“And, you know, when Billy Kelleher speaks about, oh a need for this and recall the Dáil, you know, and powerful people, I think it’s important to mention, and it would be a celebratory fact if it was an IDA-backed company, but Denis O’Brien employs in and around 10,000 people both directly and indirectly in this country and he’s entitled to invest and he’s entitled to have his leading bid for a company accepted.”

Shanley: “But James, just to go back, I mean what relevance is it how many people he employs in this country? I mean we’re talking here about press freedom. We’re talking about somebody with huge power, who owns half of the media and is preventing the other half from reporting…”

Morrissey: “No I think you’re missing my point. I was just saying when Billy Kelleher talks about powerful people. A powerful person has the same rights as a person who’s not powerful and that is a democratic right to their good name and reputation and not to have it sullied in the Dáil. And I think, to be brutally blunt about it, the Dáil is a bit of a talking club. They want their own rules for themselves and I think, to be fair, it’s important that people stand up for democracy inside the Dáil, as well as outside the Dáil because that’s the basis on which they get elected.”

Shanley: “I think, in fairness, that is what Billy Kelleher believes he’s doing today. I mean he’s saying they’d like the Dáil to reassert its validity as a chamber of free speech and he says, you know, today it’s one powerful person, a powerful entity, tomorrow it’s another powerful person and another powerful entity, where does it end?”

Morrissey: “Well this country has gone through a lot of traumas in the last 10, 20 years. Traumas that have caused huge hardship to people, huge problems in our hospitals, in our healthcare…”

Shanley: “And did silencing reporters help this?”

Morrissey: “…I don’t ever remember Billy Kelleher calling for the Dáil to be recalled.”

Shanley: “But, James, isn’t that the very point there, that you need the media, you need freedom of the press to address issues like this. How are you linking this to the idea that it’s good idea to silence reporters?”

Morrissey: “No, no, no. I’m. Keelin, I think… you keep asking me the same question. The bottom line is a person is entitled to privacy in relation to their financial affairs. That goes to the core of it.”

Shanley: “Even if it means that we, the citizens, do not hear what is being said in our Dail, our elected Dail?”

Morrissey: “But if somebody, if somebody stands up and utters falsehoods and tries to have them represented as facts. So that’s fine? That newspapers can publish those falsehoods? Because newspapers want to publish them? Where does democracy go then.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: Always A Privilege

Yesterday: [REDACTED]’s 1.25% Interest Rate


In response to Mr Morrissey’s interview, Catherine Murphy responds:

“The people that continue to accuse me of falsehoods refuse to provide evidence to refute any of the issues I’ve questioned in the Dáil. My entire line of questioning on this has been to ask the Minister to give us all the pertinent information so that we can be assured that citizens were not disenfranchised as a result of any deals that may have been done.”

 Meanwhile: Oireachtas defends Murphy’s right to make O’Brien comments (Irish Times)


It’s escalating.

Meanwhile….Clash Between Irish Billionaire and Broadcaster Reopens Wounds (Stephen Castle, Douglas Dalby, New York Times)

89 thoughts on “‘It’s Important People Stand Up For Democracy’

  1. JimmytheHead

    “a fundamental core principle of a democracy is the right of every individual to their good name and reputation and privacy in matters that are private.”

    “…their good name…..”

    …”GOOD” name…..

    can we not just hang him?

    1. Sancho

      What a weak interview. Could he not have brought up the point that while DoB has a right to his good name, as the transaction is with the Gov and the financing was with a Gov owned bank that the there is a public interest issue too? As such, there is a conflict between the right to one’s good name and the public interest. I mean seriously, I’m pretty hard on RTE most of the time, but RTE’s failure to question this guy in any serious way and instead to just let him come on and give his side only, is ridiculous. RTE really is a disappointment to itself and the Irish people.

  2. Don Pidgeoni

    Surely he loses that right when the taxpayer is effectively paying for his old loans (if I understand what is going on right)

  3. Mr. T.

    Some people use their intelligence to mislead, deceive, misrepresent and live a dishonest life at the expense of others.

    Some people use their intelligence to improve the lives of others.

    I know which one I would throw off a cliff.

    1. mayoonmymind

      Where was Billy Kelleher when Haughty’ s thousands (our money) were written off by the bank. Or when Doherty, Lawler, Bourke, Flynn et al. were defrauding the state for years.? O’Brien has been harassed by the media since he made his money. Bring him down and put the thousands back on the dole. Bring him down and give the media even more power to ruin/denigrate anyone over whom they have no control. Envy is a very serious sin, according to the bible. Maybe it’s time our media raised it’s standards and developed a little professionalism. Both, sadly lacking.

  4. Chris

    Seems like a nice reasonable man, definitely not a despicable slimy creature who lurched out from the shadows to hack up and spew out vile self satisfied grease brazenly defending this most cynical use of a court injunction.

    1. The Dude

      Plus one; seems like a lovely fellow altogether. Isn’t it reassuring to know people like this chap are in charge of the country?

  5. Lilly

    Disgusting man. Broken record and not one intelligent thing to say. Recall the Dail and please RTE stop giving these corrupt buffoons airtime. BTW James, Denis O’Brien’s name has not been good on these shores for a long time now.

  6. Casey

    Well kids, if ever you needed one, that was a master class in ‘Whataboutery’:

    Don’t like that there are calls for the Dail being recalled to talk about an issue your client doesn’t want them to talk about?
    Sur’ wharrabout the time this and that happened and they did not re-sit then??

    Don’t like the fact a writer in an English newspaper wrote about something your client doesn’t want them to talk about?
    Sur’ wharrabout the time that writer wrote about this unspecified thing that he was wrong about??

    Don’t like that your client is being accused to silence the media after ALLEGATIONS about shady dealings in his business life?
    Sur’ wharrabout the fact he employs 000s of people??

    </Don't like that your client has an effective way of silencing any criticism of his business dealings because of the number of media outlets he owns?
    Sur’ wharrabout RTE??

    1. Casey

      Bloody sleeven employed by a sleeven supported by a government of sleevens… except for some noticable exceptions like Catherine Murphy. Time for a new broom.

      Yes I get so annoyed at this shower of sh*tweasels that I replied to my own post. I am sick of this old guard trying to drag us back into the backwards days of backhanders, insiders, nepotism and boys circle business practices. Shoddy people with morally corrupt ethics that conspired to keep our country in the dark ages for so long to line their own pockets.

      1. ivan

        precisely. I normall skim thru the tl;dr stuff, but i gave this time and noted *just* what you said of the whatabouterys. A masterclass indeed.

      2. Dubh Linn

        Never has the word sh*tweasel been so well used (and this is the first time I have seen it!)

        Perhaps instead of [REDACTED] we should use [SH*TWEASEL]

        1. Nice Anne (Dammit)

          Ah but Hoopshead, we have. We have had Microsoft, IBM, Apple, Googles, Cisco, Amazon, Dell, Logitech, Oracle/Siebel, Salesforce, SAP and Intel here long enough to see how to do business like a grown up.

          One thing the people of my age know is that the shysters way of doing business was to discourage innovation or inventiveness (except in the matter of how to buy a government ministers ear) That is why we missed out on producing a generation of company founders who were able to see beyond their own pocket lining and come up with new ways of doing things that did not involve bribery, corruption and old boy back slapping.

          But this generation has been exposed to other innovators from other countries and we know that things should be different. We know how they can be different. This is why there is a huge hoo-hah about these allegations. People do not want to do business like this any more. They do not want products or services from people who do business like this and the sooner we drive them away and get on with being the brilliant resourceful people we know we are, the better.

    1. Pip

      It’s rather funny though, too.
      Usually the spokesperson is slicker, cooler, better-complexioned than the principal.
      What happened here…????

  7. Starina

    “But until such, as there’s a view that there is wrongdoing involved, then a person is entitled to their good reputation.”

    But REDACTED doesn’t have a good reputation.

  8. Medium Sized C

    When the word Democracy stops meaning Democracy then this is what happens.

    Why did the interviewer not ask him, “How is the system of government by the people or by representatives of the people under threat by publishing details of one persons financial affairs for the information of the people whom are responsible for government or election of representatives to be responsible for government?”

      1. Medium Sized C

        ‘Nother few months yet..

        Fine Gael will be in the next government, so I’m pretty sure an election won’t make you any happier. Sorry.

  9. Carlos Redactamundo

    Does he openly question Roy Gleeslade’s integrity and then not 5 seconds later implore that people have the right to their “good reputations”?

  10. Carlos Redactamundo

    Also – favourite unintentionally ironic quote – “Where does democracy go then?”

    Indeed. Where does democracy go?

  11. collynomial

    Well there’s only one thing that deputy Kelleher left out in his interview with you on that issue. And it was: does that allow Dáil privilege to include people to say whatever they like about people – be they correct or incorrect.

    I think we can all agree Dáil privilege includes people to say whatever they like about people be it correct. From this we can infer the statement implies that the injunction found that the RTÉ report was incorrect. However, what we do know about the injunction is that it could not be published until parts had been redacted. If names had to be redacted, would that not imply there was truth in the article and persons needed to be protected? The only other conclusion then is that evidence was redacted.

    Would you like to see your banking matters being published in a newspaper? I wouldn’t.

    This is interesting. In the first quote, the guy basically implies RTÉ/Catherine Murphy had got it wrong. In this quote here he is appealing to privacy. So it follows that if Mr. O’Brein’s privacy has been breached the details announced in the Dáil and the Guardian are correct and subsequently there was no abuse of Dáil privilege (provided TDs can say things that are correct).

    1. Frilly Keane

      Open To Correction
      So note the Health Warning

      But didn’t Former Fine Gayle Minister Michael Lowry exercise the very same Dáil privilege as protection for himself when he named, from the Dáil floor while taking Ministers Questions himself, certain individuals and cornered them into his infamous “Cosy Cartel” when he was Minister for Mobile Phone Licences and Self Interest Comings and Goings.


  12. fluffybiscuits

    To continue Clampers point also, he has been blamed for dragging Ireland down in the corruption index


    “The poor results come after a succession of political controversies. The Moriarty and Mahon Tribunals published negative findings against politicians and business people after 15 year-long investigations into corruption and payments to government ministers. There was further controversy a year after the publication of the final Moriarty Tribunal report when the Taoiseach shared a platform at Wall Street with Denis O’Brien, a leading businessman linked to clandestine payments to the former minister for communications, Michael Lowry. Mr Lowry was found to have influenced the award of the second mobile phone licence to Mr O’Brien’s consortium in 1995.”

  13. martco

    starting to wonder if we are in street protest territory yet? Imagine if a well organised flash protest group organised by nobody in particular marches thru Dublin with banners and t-shirts calling for an immediate investigation into this thieving fk (because he is, effectively he is stealing from us and will continue to do so from our children)…
    What will yer man the lawyer do and say then??? I just don’t believe this injunction practically holds any water at all…just a delay tactic they must know it’ll be leaked discussed reported in other jurisdictions eventually…like does the scumbag think he can literally stop the Internet or something???
    And why isn’t this dodgy court decision being challenged at all back at the courts, things get appealed all the time, why not this? Am I missing something here??

  14. SureTing

    Pirates of the Caribbean is a great film. Has anyone seen it? It’s about a group of swashbuckling independent business men who operate all kinds of schemes in the Caribbean in search of treasure, running rings around the unwitting local law enforcment, far from the prying eyes Her Majesty’s Royal Navy who are chiefly located on the other side of the Atlantic. I don’t know why I thought of it now.

    1. Cowenwatch

      Concerning Bill and Ted there. O’Brien donated millions to the Clinton Foundation at unspecified dates and was awarded the Haiti mobile phone license in 2011.

      And, Min Alan Kelly’s brother, Declan Kelly of Teneo Holdings, has also donated a fair whack of cash to the CF. He was awarded the Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland position.

      Cosy, eh!

  15. martco

    btw I’ve run off a pile of paper copies of the story and I’m gonna make it my business over the weekend to distribute it everywhere I go

  16. mthead

    Up is down! Down is up! Black is white! White is black!
    I jest but this is genuinely weird stuff.

  17. PaddyM

    I know that John McGuirk is most Broadsheet posters’ and commenters’ incarnation of absolute evil but he is absolutely on fire with the whole #redacted issue on Twitter at the moment.

    1. ivan

      yup – as Ming says ‘when i’m retweeting John McGuirk, you know there’s a crisis…’

  18. aretheymyfeet

    Boycott all O’Brien linked businesses!! Kick him out of the country, we don’t want any rich oligarchs running this country, it’s bad enough with the bankers running riot.

    1. Dave

      That’s the problem, we can’t. Unless you want to die of thirst with greasy hair.

  19. Emcn

    “But if somebody, if somebody stands up and utters falsehoods and tries to have them represented as facts. So that’s fine? That newspapers can publish those falsehoods? Because newspapers want to publish them? Where does democracy go then.”

    Gov. ministers and Enda are at this all the time, be it Irish Water, Garda whistleblowers, Sinn Fein, “it’s all Fianna Fails fault” etc. etc. and INM publish as fact these falsehoods. “Where does democracy go then?”

  20. #Selfie Face

    Comparing banking matters of someone in NAMA and someone otherwise, is idiotic. Denis O’Brien or his companies were/are in NAMA which is owned by the citizens of Ireland. We are entitled to know what deals, if any, debtors get.

  21. robin Nicholson

    Could someone please explain How someone who is not a resident of a country be able to gain a court judgement in Ireland preventing anything being published about him
    He should only have the right to a libel case if the published story is incorrect

  22. f_lawless

    At least there’s some consolation to be taken from the fact that due to this Internet Age we live in, it’s turned into a classic case of the Streisand Effect

  23. LookingOn

    I’d love to know something…. As regards false information being stolen?. If it was stolen – then from whom was it stolen, and if it’s false information, why was it being kept? The is getting better by the hour.

  24. ahjayzis

    Part of me feels sorry for [REDACTED], I think he’s going to regret ever going up against Ms. Murphy, she’s a force of nature and the kind of democratic antiseptic his kind avoid like it’s the light.

  25. Otis Blue

    We hate it when our friends become successful?

    The more you ignore me the closer I get?

    You’re the one for me fatty?

    Best friend on the payroll?

    Alma matters?

    Certain people I know?

    Hold on to you friends?

    Last of the famous international playboys?

    Hand in glove?

    This charming man?

    Please, please, please let me get what I want?

    But most importantly

    A rush and push and this land is ours.

  26. Lilly

    RTE is going back to the High Court on Tuesday to seek permission to report on Catherine Murphy’s speech to the Dail. Would they ever grow a pair, broadcast as is their constitutional right and let the chips fall where they may. Sounds as if there’s a serious lack of leadership in Montrose, looking for permission to do what we pay them to do.

  27. Lilly

    The craven Kenny of course is refusing to recall the Dail. Soon enough he’ll be out on his backside pottering about the place cornering anyone who’ll listen with a rambling story about the fella he met last week who told him the daffodils are still blooming in Castlebar. Bring it on.

  28. Truth in the News

    RTE do not have to go to any Court to vindicate their right to publish any utterance
    made in either house of the Oireachtas, they have a constitutional right to do so
    and no Judge or Court can interefere with it, James Morrisey former editor of
    Sunday Business Post, should be aware of this right too, there will be one winner
    in this and Dennis O’Brien it won’t be, they people of this country will decide his
    commercial fate, as it not too far off when they will take the bit between their teeth
    and employ a “Boycott”……this is heading for a full blown constitutional crisis
    will test the very foundations of democracy and freedom of speech and the public’s right to establish the fact’s about public entities that they own and pay
    taxes which were used to bale them out…..it would not happen in a Banana Republic…..they have a tendency to have coup’s….even “Papa Doc” got

  29. Sham Bob

    Morrisey’s interview with Matt Cooper was more comedy gold – trying to say the information was both made up and illegally obtained.

    1. martco

      Yeah I caught that on the way home, surprised that (redacted) is relying on someone like yer man to do his talking and true enough he made it way worse for (redacted)…Matt Cooper of all people defo got under his skin…esp liked the bit where he asked yer man if he knew what the Streisand Effect was….
      comedy gold alright but also very revealing in that I think that it shows the whole thing really was nowt more than a hopeful punt by (redacted) amazingly it did buy him a week but now the wheels are coming off bigtime…for Kenny too I predict

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