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(en) Ireland, WSM freesheet Workers Solidarity #118 - Speeches from the 1% March

Date Wed, 17 Nov 2010 07:32:03 +0200

The Shelbourne (Louise Minihan) ---- We had two reasons for starting at this spot. The first was that, as many of you will know because you were here, this is where the anti-capitalist blocs marched from in the Spring in reaction to the Gardai attacks on people protesting at the bank bailouts at Anglo Irish Bank just down the street and at the Dail. The Guards also tried unsuccessfully to stop the first bloc marching. The second though is directly related to the tour. Scattered around here are a few of the places where the 1% like to hang out and do their dodgy business. Down the road you have the Stephen’s Green Hibernian Club which calls itself ‘Ireland’s Premier Private Member’s Club’ and boasts “strong networking opportunities with over 1,500 members encompassing industry pioneers, leaders and professionals from Ireland and abroad.” Members have included Peter Sutherland, Irish Times editor Conor Brady, Judge Declan Costello and aviation millionaire Ulick McEvaddy.

Back in 2002 membership was €952 a year
but don’t rush off to join, you have to find an
existing member to propose you first. If you
are what they call ‘new money’ then Resi-
dence across the street here may be more
suitable. Membership was €1600 a year
in 2008 but has now been cut to €850. If
you’ve had a good day at NAMA may I rec-
ommend a bottle of Saint Estèphe, Château
Cos d’Estournel 1990 for €561? That’s just
under €100 euro a glass, depending on how
much of a gulper you are. So if you do save
up a week and a half wages for a bottle, re-
member to sip slowly and savour the experi-

Also just around the corner is the Kildare
Street Club - membership was apparently
“over a grand” in 2008. Also here is the
Shelbourne hotel where in 2008, thirteen
businessmen paid €65,000 for a dinner
with Brian Cowen. The 13 included Brian
O’Farrell, one of the six people named as
part of the ten strong Anglo Golden Circle,
he described the dinner as “just like a nor-
mal chat”
71 Merrion Square (Bernie Hughes)
This house was bought by Dermot Desmond
in 2000 for €6 million. He is estimated to be
worth more than €2 billion and is ranked 6th
on the Irish Independent’s Irish Rich List.
He’s a tax exile in Gibraltar but, despite this, in
2008 he was offered the Chair of AerLingus.
He was a very strong ‘financial supporter’
and friend of the corrupt Charlie Haughey
and paid €95,000 to have his yacht re-
paired, which he described at the Moriarty
Tribunal as “an insignificant financial mat-
ter’’ but he claimed never to have witnessed
any corrupt practises.
At around the same time, in April 1989,
Desmond reached an agreement with the
Johnston Mooney & O’Brien liquidator to
buy their bakery site in Ballsbridge, Dublin
for £4 million. The property was sold to a
firm called Chestvale in September 1989.
In January 1990 Desmond told semi-state
firm Telecom Eireann that the best price
he could get for the site was £9.4 million.
Telecom agreed to pay this amount. He re-
jected all suggestions that he owned a com-
pany called Freezone, which was registered
in the Isle of Man tax haven. It provided
much of the financing for the purchase of
the property and received £1.3 million in
profit. A report for the Department of In-
dustry and Commerce, hotly contested by
Desmond, found that the financier was
among those who made over £5 million
from the sale of the Ballsbridge property.
According to this report, Desmond was
secretly behind the company that sold the
site to Telecom Eireann and was at the
same time acting as an adviser to Telecom
chairman Michael Smurfit, who was buy-
ing the site on behalf of the semi-state com-
pany. The report concluded that Smurfit
was unaware of Desmond’s ”involvement’’.
Desmond is widely credited with being the
inspiration behind the International Fi-
nancial Services Centre (IFSC). In 1996
he bought Baltimore Technologies for
£300,000 and then sold most of his shares
before the dot com crash, walking away with
£50 million profit. Crashes are often not as
bad for the super rich as they have access to
the information that allows them to get our
first, often with huge profits that they then
reinvest once prices have crashed. So in the
last couple of years the global number of bil-
lionaires has in fact risen. Desmond pulled
the same trick with Greencore in 2006.
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