Taoiseach met Denis O’Brien at Davos

Leo Varadkar tells Dáil of informal discussion with businessman

Former British prime minister Tony Blair and EU parliament Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier; were among those Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (pictured) had informal meetings with at Davos.   Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair and EU parliament Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier; were among those Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (pictured) had informal meetings with at Davos. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

 

Businessman Denis O’Brien was among those Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met while at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland recently.

Mr Varadkar gave the Dáil details of events he attended and people he met formally at scheduled events while on his first visit as Taoiseach to the forum.

He also listed the people he met informally who included Mr O’Brien; former British prime minister Tony Blair; EU parliament Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier; former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan; Argentinian president Mauricio Macri and Slovenian prime minister Miro Cerar.

The Taoiseach said he also attended the closing address at the Davos forum by US president Donald Trump.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin asked Mr Varadkar if he met those people collectively or separately. “What was the subject matter of the conversations where Ireland is concerned and indeed generally?” he asked.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy referred to the Oxfam report that the “top 1 per cent had 82 per cent of all the wealth generated globally last year while the bottom 50 per cent, 3.7 billion people, got nothing”.

He too expressed interest in Mr Varadkar’s meetings, specifically the content of the Taoiseach’s discussion at the “impromptu meeting he had with our 1 per cent Mr Denis O’Brien who was not there for no reason. He was there for economic reasons and to maximise profit through political influence.”

The Taoiseach had a number of pre-scheduled meetings including one with Facebook chief executive Sheryl Sandberg.

Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton then asked about that discussion and said she did not believe Facebook was doing enough to try to reduce destructive speech about democracies, what she referred to as “Trump-speak”, and the “personal trolling of many people involved in democratic politics”.

Mr Varadkar answered the question about Ms Sandberg but not about his meeting with Mr O’Brien or any of the other informal contacts.

He said they principally discussed the operations of Facebook in Ireland, which is expanding and will take on a few hundred extra people in particular in the East Wall area of Dublin.

“We discussed how more could be done to protect social media users, particularly children.”