O'Brien's in a league of his own:Denis O’Brien may be feeling a little wounded this week, having been blamed by the Irish arm of Transparency International for single-handedly pushing Ireland down the international corruption league table.
He subsequently issued a press statement saying that he was not mentioned by name anywhere in the source materials used to compile the organisation’s index, though he was mentioned in the press release issued along with the index by the organisation’s Irish branch.
Things went a bit better for him in America where he was honoured on Wednesday at Irish America magazine annual Business 100 in New York.
Even more pleasing must have been the posting on the blog of Niall O’Dowd, the Irish-American publisher behind the awards and the Irish Voice newspaper. “Good men like O’Brien are rare as hen’s teeth and, like all good men, he has drawn ferocious critics as well – mostly in Ireland,” gushed O’Dowd.
“That is not unusual. ‘Great hatred, little room’ as Yeats wrote, and O’Brien’s success began in the Wild West era of capitalism in Ireland when there were few established rules. O’Brien was perfect for that era, a buccaneer capitalist with no special family ties to the notorious insider world of Irish business.
“He emerged with the country’s first cell phone licence and turned it into pure gold and some have never forgiven him for upsetting the cozy coterie. How he got it still exercises some of the chatterati in Ireland. I think it is time Irish America took a stance on this good and decent man and gave him the respect and acknowledgement he deserves as the pre-eminent Irish businessman and philanthropist of his era.”
O’Dowd’s comparison between Ireland in the mid-1990s and the wild west will no doubt raise some eyebrows, never mind his error in not knowing that O’Brien won the second mobile licence.
But what might be harder to stomach than his rallying cry to Irish America on O’Brien’s behalf, is his apparent equation of a report by a tribunal of inquiry appointed by the Oireachtas to the status of chatterati.
compare - so long as it's like for like
It might be overstating things to say that Aldi has struck a blow for consumer rights, but the German discounter’s successful action against Tesco should bring some discipline to the fraught area of in-store price comparisons.
At the heart of the dispute between the two chains was whether or not Tesco was comparing like with like in its in store comparison material.
Tesco has now agreed to a fairly stringent set of conditions about how it uses Aldi’s logo and will only compare prices of products currently on sale in Aldi and that are comparable in terms of substance, nature and quality. It will also have to specify if the products are Irish and have the Bord Bia quality assurance mark.
It has to pay its German rival €150,000 and, perhaps more painfully, meet its costs in the action.
It’s a pleasing victory for Aldi and comes just as the various supermarket chains are going toe to toe to get their share of the Christmas grocery spend.
But at the same time, it has to be put in perspective. No extension of consumer rights has been inferred by the courts; it is more a case of Aldi vindicating its own rights.