August 2013        

Pat Kenny does well

The move of the right-wing broadcaster Pat Kenny from the state-owned RTE to Newstalk came as little surprise to those on the left who like to keep an eye on these things.
     Over the years Kenny has dropped the liberal façade and openly embraced the culture of neo-liberalism. His dispassionate tones and analysis belied an eye for the main chance. Money is his god, as became evident in the displays of toadying towards the rich and famous on his chat shows.
     When it comes to stashing the cash, Kenny himself is no slouch. An old squash-playing associate of his told me: “He likes to win—in sport and in life—and he can be a right ruthless bastard in the process.” His dealings over a right of way on Gorse Hill, Dalkey, some years ago may be said to underline that point.
     As he rose to the top of the heap out in RTE, Kenny’s wealth accumulated. At first he mixed with the likes of Chris de Burgh (Lady in Red), Eddie Jordan (of grand prix fame), and the nascent Dalkey bourgeoisie. Then the banking and investment boys became his chums.
     He was one of RTE’s highest-earners: in 2008 alone he pocketed €951,000. (In fairness to him it must be pointed out that he did take a cut to a lowly €630,000 in more recent times.) His wealth meant that he could afford to speculate on property deals during the boom times with the expectation of great returns.
     About this time Kenny was linked to business “leaders” such as the now bankrupt developer Seán Dunne and Lar Bradshaw. Indeed he was joint owner with these two and four other investors in no. 3 George’s Dock, Dublin, in 1997, a property in the International Financial Services Centre that was rented by NCB Stockbrokers and CIT Aerospace. The syndicate was put together by Derek Quinlivan of Quinlivan Private, who moved to Switzerland when the market crashed. (His debts were taken over by NAMA.)
     One report said of Kenny that “through Quinlan, he also has stakes in property syndicates with interests in Budapest, Prague and London, which collectively owe Anglo Irish Bank €95m.” He is believed to have invested €600,000 in the Four Seasons Hotel in Budapest through the Quinlan consortium. Other investments included his purchase of a suite at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, for approximately €2 million.
     During all this time, many of his shows were paeans to the wonderful work of the investors and other “wealth-creators.” Trickle-down economics were the order of the day. Proposals to increase tax on the rich were not warmly welcomed. For Kenny is a mouthpiece of the Irish establishment. Their ideology is clearly his.
     He sympathises with the rich who have fallen on hard times; for the poor there is always grace, favour and charity from the Dennis O’Brien and J. P. McManus camp. This charity is hailed by the rich and their cronies but questioned by many. As one critic of O’Brien wrote, “it is too easy to garner plaudits for philanthropy on the back of donations of cash, some of which is not ethically yours to give.”
     Now Kenny is off to Newstalk, the station owned by Denis O’Brien, the well-known tax-avoider and a person used to having his own way with the media. It has been reported that his new wage will be in the region of €1 million per annum.
     The Communist Party of Ireland has constantly reminded us that “the media are not neutral; business and financial interests determine the political priorities and the agendas of governments and the majority of the parties that move in and out of government.”
     According to the Village, O’Brien threatened to sue the corruption watchdog Transparency International for linking Ireland’s descent down its international corruption index not just to the Mahon and Moriarty Tribunals in general but to Denis O’Brien in particular. And the editor of the Sunday Independent, Anne Harris, has claimed that seventeen journalists have received legal letters from Denis O’Brien in the last ten years. This is Pat Kenny’s new employer.

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