herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Anton Savage: O'Donnells gave us a lesson in how to lose friends and irritate people

Brian O'Donnell lost his appeal against the repossession of his former mansion
Brian O'Donnell lost his appeal against the repossession of his former mansion
We've had an obesity warning
Aisling Brady McCarthy at her bail hearing in Massachusetts yesterday

In most instances, when someone in a legal battle decides to do interviews it is to sway the court of public opinion in their favour.

Clearly this is not the case with Brian O’Donnell and his family. The interviews they have given have been so astonishingly counterproductive we must assume they felt the bank was proving too boring an opponent and, for a real challenge, they wanted to set the public mood against them.

The process began with the farce that was Gerry Beades of the Land League declaring one of the most luxurious properties in Ireland to be “a bog standard house”, to the sound of guffaws around the country.

The O’Donnells must have felt that Gerry had not done enough to turn the proletariat against them, as two of their children, Blake and Blaise then leapt into the fray.

For her part Blaise told us the Gorse Hill interiors “aren’t lavish, as seems to be bandied around. I think this is the word of the week: lavish. It just isn’t the case. I think Jerry was trying to make clear that it’s a house with normal amenities”.

I assume she means things like a swimming pool and panoramic views of Killiney bay.

Evidently, Brian O’Donnell decided even his kids’ best efforts were falling short of creating complete public opprobrium, because he jumped into the fray himself courtesy of Pat Kenny.

He explained how unfair the (repeated) court defeats were, as he and his wife had a right to stay in Gorse Hill. His logic? The house is not owned by him and his wife. It’s owned by a company, whose shareholders are his kids, and that company has given him and his wife permission to stay.

As the bank was chasing him for debts, not a company owned by his children which owns a house you’d think was his but actually isn’t, then he should be able to keep the house he doesn’t own. Clear?

Complex legal structures that seem to fly in the face of common sense would be enough to really annoy the public, but Brian must have been concerned that there might still have been someone on their side. He iced the cake with the sentence “we’re not looking for sympathy”.

If anything is going to get the public’s backs up it’s telling them the ex-billionaire is not looking for sympathy. Just to be absolutely double sure that everyone was irked, he mentioned that his actions had saved a man’s life by so inspiring that man that he decided against suicide.

At least Brian O’Donnell can now be sure that he has succeeded in squashing any remaining public sympathy.

David Hall, the man who has made his name and reputation by attacking the banks on behalf of the borrower and is one of the most aggressive and vociferous advocates for pressured home-owners, publicly tweeted: “Ah lads 82 appearances in High, Commercial & Supreme Court and all lost, move on Brian O Donnell”.

When David Hall is telling you to get a grip and give up, you know you’re pretty much out of supporters.

 

The Irish will be the most obese in Europe by 2030? Fat chance of that

So the World Health Organisation says we could be the fattest country in Europe by 2030.

2015-05-07_opi_9291925_I1.JPG
We've had an obesity warning

Bull. The one thing history has told us is that predictions like that are not worth the paper on which they are written.

In 1925 all the predictions for the future were centred on peace and prosperity. Within 15 years we had the Great Depression and the Second World War.

In 1985, Ireland was bleak, economically crippled and devoid of opportunity. By 2005 we were the economic envy of Europe. In 1990 HIV/Aids was a death sentence and was regarded as one of the great threats to world health. By 2005, it was a treatable illness.

predictions

We are really, really bad at long term predictions. Did anyone get a 15-year lead time on the rise of text messaging, or the creation of Facebook? Or the saturation of the mobile phone?

In fact, one of the truths of humanity is that the things we factor into our long term predictions as risks for the future are almost never the things that cause us real problems.

September 11 and the rise of Islamic radicalism was not well predicted (as has been shown in numerous subsequent analyses). The economic devastation that was wrought upon us in 2008 was (as we've grown weary from hearing) very, very poorly predicted.

So the notion that someone can predict the relative fatness of all of the countries in Europe and place them on a league table is as specious as it is silly.

In 15 years time we might be the fattest on the block, but we might be the skinniest. Who knows?

Although to be on the safe side, we should probably lay off the chips a bit.

 

TV's true test of gender balance

Channel 4 this week broadcast a rare comedy drama, called No Offence. Rare because it passed the 'Bechdel test'. Named after Alison Bechdel, the cartoonist who created it in a comic strip, the test examines gender equality.


No Offence

There's three elements: a programme must have two or more female characters; they must talk to each other; and talk about something other than a man. No Offence is remarkable because its lead characters are women (Joanna Scanlon, inset, plays DI Vivienne Deering) who rarely discuss men.

True, many of their conversations are about dead bodies, intrigue and murder, but it's that kind of show. Now wouldn't it be great if every new TV show had to pass the test?

 

Not quite the rebels they clearly think we are

Aisling Brady McCarthy, the Irish nanny facing a murder charge in America over the death of a child, had her bail hearing this week.

The prosecution had come up with a great argument – they alleged that the Irish Government would sneak her a passport and then, if possible, facilitate her in bail-jumping back to Ireland, where she enjoys “great support”.

USNanny.jpg
Aisling Brady McCarthy

Clearly the prosecutor was not familiar with our less than courageous relationship with the US. We’ve been acting as a North Atlantic aircraft carrier for the US since before the Iraq war. There isn’t a chance we’d facilitate the flight of a person on a murder charge – which is right and proper. But the rest of the time it might be nice if we were a little closer to the rebellious nation the prosecutor thinks we are.

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