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O'Brien hits out at 'venom, abuse and hatred' over row with RTE on bank details

Businessman Denis O'Brien has said he has never experienced the level of "abuse, venom and hatred" from taking a stand to protect his privacy by trying to stop RTE's attempts to publish his private bank details.

Mr O'Brien added that he has been "dragged into a media frenzy" because of RTE trying to broadcast his private bank details and Independent TD Catherine Murphy's "desire to distort them".

In a comment piece in today's Irish Times, Mr O'Brien claimed files in relation to his banking arrangements had been stolen from Anglo Irish/IBRC bank, tampered with, and leaked to RTE.


"Over the past several years, some of the media in Ireland has become more and more vicious and invasive and this was a deliberate attempt to misrepresent my personal banking relationship," he said.

"Not for one minute did I ever allow external access to anyone to my private banking files. The only conclusion is that they were taken from Anglo Irish Bank/IBRC without the permission of the liquidator. In other words, they were stolen.

"Maybe I am old-fashioned but I operate on the basis that a client's relationship with its bank is at all times confidential. Where would we be in Ireland if four million people had to make public all their banking relationships?" Mr O'Brien said.

He also wrote about how he had made a conscious decision as the Irish economy was thrown into chaos during the economic collapse to pull money from some of his foreign accounts and place it in Irish banks as a "vote of confidence" in Ireland in the hope it would reassure foreign investors here.

"I took a decision that Digicel would repatriate deposits from US banks amounting to more than $600m and place them with two Irish banks," he said.

"At that time, and subsequently, I was talking up Ireland internationally as a recovery story. I wanted to make a significant financial gesture of support at home."

Mr O'Brien also focused some of his comments on Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and his robust defence of the Dail privilege used by Catherine Murphy to divulge some of his financial details.

"What I find curious is that Deputy Martin would lambaste Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald for releasing the names of individuals wrongly associated with the Ansbacher tax-avoidance scheme," he said.

"I have never seen the Fianna Fail leader as animated as he shot from both barrels last December in the Dail at Deputy McDonald over the totally unacceptable releasing of alleged "Ansbacher names" of former cabinet and Fianna Fail colleagues," he added.


Mr O'Brien defended Dail privilege as an important component of our democracy, but said there was a "parallel duty of care on the TDs and Senators to use this privilege with integrity under the guidance of the Ceann Comhairle".

Mr O'Brien also wrote of the devastation that the economic collapse had on people and business in Ireland, and the "ill-fated policy of NAMA and other institutions, selling off parcels of loans to foreign, bottom-fishing funds.

"We have seen a whole community of business people and entrepreneurs whose lives have been ruined by the miserable behaviour of these institutions and our Government's policy of selling them down the river," said Mr O'Brien.