O’Leary calls Dáil ‘assembly of half-wits and lunatics’

Ryanair chief executive describes RTÉ as ‘failed monopoly’ that should be privatised

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the Government was weak and that voters had to take responsibility for that. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the Government was weak and that voters had to take responsibility for that. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

 

The current Dáil is the “worst assembly of half-wits and lunatics”, according to Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary.

Speaking at a breakfast briefing for businesses in the Midlands, organised by Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy, Mr O’Leary said the Irish electorate needed to take responsibility for choices made at the ballot box.

He said people needed to stop voting in the local lunatic or the village idiot if they wanted a strong, serious government.

Mr O’Leary said: “We, when given the opportunity, chose to vote in the worst assembly of half-wits and lunatics.

“I am referring to the Anti-Austerity Alliance and the Independents in the Dáil and then we wonder why we do not have decent or strong Government.

“In the worst of the property recession when the property developers had bankrupted us and the banks were bankrupt, who did we elect? Mick Wallace.”

Mr O’Leary said the electorate cannot complain about the lack of activity by this Government because it was what they voted for.

He also reserved strong criticism for The Irish Times and RTÉ for prioritising cyclists in Ranelagh and Drumcondra over others.

The businessman said The Irish Times was a “Pravda” (Russian broadsheet newspaper) while the broadcaster was run by “left-wing communists”.

The airline executive claimed the state broadcaster should be privatised.

‘Diatribe’

He said RTÉ prioritised public service union stories over issues such as Donald Trump’s pending presidency, the refugee crisis in Europe and the war in Syria.

Mr O’Leary said: “All you get is diatribe coming out of unions that passes for news. If you look at the BBC they don’t have industrial correspondents topping the news.

“They are actually dealing with the news so I think the best thing that could happen [to] RTÉ is to privatise it, break it up and sell it and allow it to compete openly and fairly with Newstalk and other private sector media.

“It has been a failed monopoly for years. It has not served the country well.”

Mr O’Leary said public service broadcasting does not mean the trade union movement has to be “pandered to all the time”.

He also claimed the union movement had done “f*** all for anybody for the past 60 years”.

The chief executive of the airline said selling off RTÉ would mean Raidio na Gaeltachta, which he said “loses money hand over fist”, would have to stand alone.

Mr O’Leary said: “If Raidio na Gaeltachta cannot stand on its own two feet then frankly it should not exist.”

He told journalists Iarnród Éireann, which is in serious financial difficulty, was “doomed” unless it was privatised.

Mr O’Leary said: “It needs to bring down rail fares to really low levels. If I can fly people across Europe for €9.99, why is Irish Rail charging €30 or €40 to get from Dublin to Cork?”

He also criticised plans to build a Metro to Dublin airport saying it would cost money, which would be passed on to passengers.

Huge challenge

Mr O’Leary said the UK’s departure from the EU would be a huge challenge for the Irish economy and claimed the economy would suffer for the next two years while the negotiations were under way.

He said the Government must ensure Irish interests are protected at all costs and stop pandering to the “idiot bureaucrats” in Europe.

However, their “spineless, weak and incompetent” response to the Apple tax ruling did not inspire confidence.

Mr O’Leary said it was not for the Government to appeal the decision insisting that was for the company to do.

He said: “Our Government should have said ‘F you Brussels, we are not tolerating this, we are an autonomous country, we have autonomy over our tax, so p*** off. We are not putting up with that’.”

Ryanair

The businessman was invited to speak to businesses in the midlands about his success as Ryanair chief executive.

He said he was working to reduce the average price of a flight to €20 and confirmed transatlantic flights by the airline was “off the table” for the next five to eight years.

Mr O’Leary said he had made a conscious effort to make Ryanair friendlier to its customers.

He said: “A lot of people thought we were being nasty. We didn’t have to be nasty. We didn’t listen enough to our customers. It is very important in business to have the humility to realise you are not always right.

“Sometimes the customer is right. The customers, who always think they are right, are not always right either. We have to listen to customers.

“We had to change some of the policies but by changing those policies I think we have made it a much more pleasant experience to fly with Ryanair.”