Reilly says forum invitation to O'Brien a Cabinet matter


FINE GAEL deputy leader and Minister for Health James Reilly has said it is a matter for the Cabinet to decide whether businessman Denis O’Brien should be invited to the next Global Economic Forum in Dublin.

Two of Dr Reilly’s Labour Party Cabinet colleagues have called for a ban on Mr O’Brien’s attendance at the forum.

Dr Reilly said Mr O’Brien was entitled to due process. He said Mr O’Brien was invited to the first global forum by the previous government and those who had participated in it were invited back to the second gathering last October.

Speaking ahead of his speech to the Fine Gael ardfheis Taoiseach Enda Kenny declined to say if Mr O’Brien would be invited to the next forum, saying the list had yet to be finalised.

He also dismissed suggestions that the photograph of himself with businessmen, including Mr O’Brien, at the New York stock exchange had been inappropriate.

“I had no idea of who was going to be there . . . I am not in a position as Taoiseach to vet the lists of attendees of any particular function that I attend.

“If you follow that logic down that line, is Croke Park going to evacuate itself on All Ireland day if Mr Ahern turns up? Am I to attend at the Connacht Final if former minister Flynn turns up? This is patent nonsense and I have no intention of vetting lists where people attend and I accept invitations to attend as Taoiseach.”

Wicklow Fine Gael TD Simon Harris added his voice to the controversy by saying nobody, no matter how wealthy or influential, should be invited to any Government event if a tribunal has found them to have done wrong.

A spokesman for Mr O’Brien confirmed yesterday he will not be taking any further legal action to contest the Moriarty findings.

Mr O’Brien is engaged in a boardroom battle to gain control of Independent News and Media in which he is the biggest shareholder. INM, which publishes the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent, has been run for the past 40 years by the O’Reilly family.

Sunday Independent editor Anne Harris wrote in yesterday’s edition: “There is a danger that in the very near future control of the largest newspaper group, this group, may fall into the bailiwick of a man . . . against whom adverse findings were indeed advanced by Mr Justice Moriarty.”