Oliver Callan: Problem is what people do not say about Denis O’Brien

Media and politicians go selectively silent about INM out of fear of the billionaire

Denis O’Brien: Those who know him say he’s great company and very generous. He’s able to laugh at himself. Professionally, O’Brien is a feared litigant. Photograph: Collins Courts

Denis O’Brien: Those who know him say he’s great company and very generous. He’s able to laugh at himself. Professionally, O’Brien is a feared litigant. Photograph: Collins Courts

A month ago I bumped into Denis O’Brien in London. I was walking down Pall Mall, a glorious relic of empire, strewn with old world gentleman’s clubs. There’s a Crimean war monument at one end and St James’s Palace is at the other. This is where powerful figures mingle, whispering secrets over crystal-clinking dinners under portraits of the gout-inflamed greats of yesteryear.

Denis appeared from a side street, looking hooded-eyed but indifferent. We locked eyes for a nanosecond before awkwardly glancing away. I didn’t stop to chat like Leo Varadkar did in Davos last January. The billionaire was alone and he walked with the step of someone with things-to-do. I strolled on in my tourist-speed shuffle, and dared not look back.

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