Monday 20 November 2017

Michael O'Doherty: A developer in debt calling for 'less red tape' - just what are Renua thinking of?

Finbarr Filan
Finbarr Filan
Alison Doody
Pat Kenny
Colin Farrell

Bill Cullen's trusty sidekick on The Apprentice, Brian Purcell, has found himself a job. He has been hired by Lucinda Creighton's political party, Renua.

In taking on an advisory role there - which will see him "talent-scouting for the party and giving advice on strategy" - perhaps Brian sees himself engaging in an Apprentice-style challenge.

He described his job as "shaping the candidates into battle readiness." Perhaps he envisages himself keeping on eye on the raw recruits, with the ultimate goal of being able to stare at them down the end of a pointed finger and intone that famous phrase: "You're elected."

Brian will have his hands full, admitting that the candidates he will be dealing with have little political experience. He considers this to be a positive, however, saying "you have to admire these people who put themselves forward, and I think we need this alternative".

The first thing he might do is advise his protegees to be careful about what comes out of their mouths, though.

Take the case of one of Renua's disciples, Finbarr 'Brother of Shane' Filan, who is set to run in the Sligo-Leitrim constituency. He recently declared that "we have to make it easier for the self-employed to create jobs and get rid of red tape".

Finbarr is best known for the property company that he ran with Shane - Shafin Developments - which went bust owing €23m to a bank. It seems rather odd for Finbarr Filan to be insisting that we need to "get rid of red tape", when one considers what Shane had to say in his recent autobiography.

Describing the ease with which he and Finbarr borrowed money Shane wrote: "Finbarr and I started Shafin Developments - and raising funds was easy. Looking back, it's utterly bizarre that a bank would lend so much money to a 25-year-old pop star with no knowledge of the property market."

Shane is absolutely correct - the ease with which he could borrow money was utterly bizarre.

As the Irish taxpayer continues pick up the tab for all those developers who never repaid their loans - including Shane and Finbarr Filan - one would have thought that if there had been more red tape in place, rather than less, then he, Finbarr and countless other developers would not have been allowed to rack up billions in debt.

You have to admire Finbarr's entrepreneurial spirit, but you also have to question the business sense of someone who borrows millions of euro to buy a field in the middle of Co Leitrim, thinking that 90 newly-built homes would fly off the plans.

Within a year, then, Renua advisor Brian Purcell may well rue his choice of employer.

Finbarr Filan and Renua may also turn out to be perfect bedfellows, if our verdict on Renua turns out to be exactly what we thought about the Filans' attempts to become property tycoons.

What on earth were they thinking of?


Tell us all about your journey Alison, but don't expect us to go along with you

Alison Doody

It seems impossible to dislike Alison Doody.

Glamorous, refined and ice-cool, she has often been described as an Irish incarnation of Grace Kelly.

She shares not just Kelly's physical attributes, but also Princess Grace's fondness for the high life.

Finding herself 50 and single, Alison has opened her heart about the lessons that life has taught her.

"You cannot buy happiness," she said. "I say it to my two children every single day. I would much rather them meet somebody who is going to look after them and mind them, and be a great friend to them and a great partner."

A cynic might suggest that Alison should know what she's talking about.

"I have had it all. I have flown on private jets," she says.


"I have had the great fortune of being able to go to wonderful places and do lots of shopping in places like Brown Thomas."

At a bit of a loose end after the break up of her relationship with meat baron Tadhg Geary, however, Alison has come up with a plan.

"I would like to work because I like being busy," she revealed, "I don't like being idle ... I would love to write a book. It would be about my journey."

At which juncture, it may be wise to offer a word of advice to the gorgeous, refined and impossibly glamorous Alison.

As many in the country still struggle to make ends meet, and are obliged to work not because they "like being busy" but because they need to survive, perhaps a journey which entailed travel by private jet and shopping sprees in Brown Thomas is not exactly going to strike a chord.

So do us a favour Alison my dear. For the time being at least, keep that journey to yourself.


Pat's strength is simple - survival

Pat Kenny

UTV Ireland have decided to axe Pat Kenny's (inset) chat show after just one season. The station said it was now going to find a format that best utilised Pat's strengths, which prompts these obvious questions. Why didn't they do that in the first place? More importantly, what are these strengths?

Well, he convinced both Newstalk and UTV Ireland to hand over fat cheques for his services. He has since delivered a radio show that has half the audience he used to enjoy on RTE, and a TV show that's been axed after one series.

Yet both of Pat's employers are still delighted with him. Which suggests that one of Pat's greatest strengths is this: he's a hell of a survivor.


Colin Farrell switches from puff to guff

Colin Farrell

A year ago, Colin Farrell described the anxiety that preceded his decision to take a role in True Detective.

"Ideally, you cut into that in short order as soon as you start telling the story and as soon as you turn it from a conceptual experience into something that's practical and being given breath," he said.

If you thought that was impenetrable guff, consider Colin's latest revelation about how he managed to give up smoking.

"I wrote a breakup letter to the Spirit of Tobacco. I got a frying pan and tossed the letter with a load of tobacco, put some paraffin over it, and lit a match that sent a big, wallowing cloud up into the sky."

Farrell may have given up cigarettes, but it sounds like he's still smoking something ...

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