Desmond better off keeping mum

If anyone deserves to have some sensitivity shown to it by AIB – it is surely the thousands struggling to pay their mortgages

In his assessment of the case for sensitive treatment of Tony O’Reilly by AIB, Dermot Desmond may find he is out of sync with the mood of the people.

In his assessment of the case for sensitive treatment of Tony O’Reilly by AIB, Dermot Desmond may find he is out of sync with the mood of the people.

Sat, Jul 5, 2014, 01:00

Dermot Desmond’s disdain for the media is legendary and he might have been better served adhering to his maxim of not speaking to the press this week rather than eulogising Tony O’Reilly.

Much, if not all, of what Desmond said about O’Reilly, when he was conferred with an honorary degree by Queens University, was accurate.

O’Reilly was one of the most outstanding businessman of his generation. He was a role model for many, including Mr Desmond. He was a leader, a great communicator and, through the Ireland Fund, he raised a lot of money for worthy causes. He encapsulated much of the sympathy for O’Reilly voiced by others privately in recent days.

But in his assessment that this amounted to a case for sensitive treatment of O’Reilly by AIB, Desmond may find he is out of sync with the mood of the people.

If anyone deserves to have some sensitivity shown to it by AIB – bailed out by Irish taxpayers – it is surely the thousands of customers struggling to pay their mortgages, largely through no fault of their own. They are not getting too much sensitivity and thus O’Reilly neither deserves nor, one suspects, really expected any different.

But what really jarred was Desmond’s own actions towards O’Reilly as against his words. At important junctures in the battle between O’Reilly and Denis O’Brien for control of Independent Newspapers and Media, Desmond chose to side with O’Brien. The reason, one presumes, was that he believed his considerable investment in the group is best served by backing O’Brien over O’Reilly.

It was a long, drawn-out and brutal battle between O’Brien and O’Reilly with little sensitivity evident on either side.

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