Monday February 09 2009
THE ex-partner of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern proposed a public relations firm with strong links to Fianna Fail for a €200,000 contract with the National Consumer Agency.
Celia Larkin (49) proposed Q4 Public Relations, the company founded by former Fianna Fail general secretary Martin Mackin, for the lucrative contract to handle publicity for the agency.
The beauty business owner, who was appointed to the NCA board by Mr Ahern amid a storm of controversy, pocketed over €18,000 in fees and expenses last year for her work with the agency.
Similar payments were made to other board members, despite the fact the agency board was originally constituted as a voluntary one.
According to documents obtained by the Irish Independent under the Freedom of Information Act, Q4 was awarded a 24-month contract last February with an option to extend for one further year.
The minutes of an NCA board meeting show Ms Larkin proposed that Q4 be hired. The proposal was seconded by board member Pat Desmond, before being passed by the board.
The public relations firm was set up in 2003 by Mr Mackin and Jackie Gallagher, a former adviser to Mr Ahern.
The firm has proved popular with a number of government departments.
In 2007 and 2008, the firm netted contracts worth €236,000 from the Department of Justice, Department of Enterprise and the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism.
It also secured the lucrative contract to publicise the Government's ill-fated electronic voting initiative, leading a Fine Gael TD to claim in the Dail that there was "a suspicion that these consultancy jobs are for friends of Fianna Fail".
The comment was challenged by then Environment Minister Martin Cullen, who insisted there was no partiality towards Q4 in the tendering process.
Documents obtained by the Irish Independent also reveal that Ms Larkin has received over €52,000 in fees and expenses from her role on the NCA board since 2006.
She was appointed to the board in 2005 by Mr Ahern, her former "life partner", in controversial circumstances.
Her name was added to the board at the request of the Department of the Taoiseach some six weeks after the board's initial composition was announced.
The now Environment Minister and Green Party leader John Gormley said at the time that it "smacked of cronyism".
Although the NCA was originally constituted as an honorary board, within months the Department of Finance approved fee payments to board members.
Ms Larkin runs the Beauty at Blue Door beauty salon in Drumcondra.
She had expanded her business interests to include two other salons in Limerick; however, both were offloaded last year.
She previously worked as a civil servant and has had a long association with Fianna Fail.
She joined Ogra Fianna Fail in the 1970s, where she first met Mr Ahern. In 1986, she was an unsuccessful local election candidate for the party.
Her relationship with Mr Ahern came to public attention in 1994 -- two years after he announced the break-up of his marriage -- when she accompanied him to a Cairde Fail function at the Burlington Hotel.
Although the relationship ended in 2003, it has remained under intense scrutiny as a result of Mr Ahern's appearances at the Mahon Tribunal.
As the tribunal lawyers followed the money trail, it emerged that Ms Larkin was central to a number of episodes relating to Mr Ahern's finances.
She "sourced" a house in Dublin for Manchester businessman Michael Wall, who later rented the property to Mr Ahern before eventually selling it to him.
In December 1994, she lodged the equivalent of IR£28,772, which was claimed to be money from Mr Wall, to pay for stamp duty and renovations on the property. However, the tribunal contends that the lodgment could actually equate to an unexplained payment of $45,000.
- Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent
Corruption cronyism and stroke pulling out Dublin Airport way?
In our opinion the commercial shopping centre contracts division in the inner departure area has been riddled with it.Take one Fianna Fail senator/mover and shaker/ex TD wealthy businessman Donie Cassidy..
Donie Cassidy was paid 20% of the net profits from the company that operated seven bars in Dublin airport for the past 10 years, despite a senior figure in the business being “not aware” of the nature of the services provided by the Fianna Fail senator and businessman.
His son also owns a number of music outlets in the same location.!
Cassidy’s family company, Wentridge Investments, acquired a 10% stake in Atwell, the company operating the airport bars, for a “nominal sum” in 1998.
The other 90% of Atwell was held by Thomas Read, a pub business then owned by Hugh O’Regan. Cassidy received more than €200,000 in payments from Atwell in the 12 months to May 2008.
The lucrative deal, agreed more than a decade ago, stated that Cassidy was not required to provide capital or financial support to the company.
In addition, the Seanad leader was indemnified against “any and all liabilities” by Thomas Read. Documents drawn up at the formation of the company state that Cassidy’s annual payments were to be “in recognition of his services” to Atwell.
Mark Leavey, a former chief executive of Thomas Read, has stated in an affidavit that he was “not aware” of any services Cassidy provided to Atwell in return for these payments.
Cassidy declined to outline to The Sunday Times the nature of services provided.
“We are a family business and our business affairs are private and confidential,” Cassidy said in a statement.
“We are fully compliant as a family business with any and every request by the Dublin Airport Authority,” he added.
The terms of Cassidy’s agreement with O’Regan have not been disclosed previously.
Aer Rianta, which managed Dublin airport until the creation of the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) in 2004, awarded Atwell the contract to operate the bars on May 21, 1999 following a tender.
Thomas Read was sold in 2004 but the arrangement with Atwell stayed in place.
Seanad leader paid €200,000 in airport deal - Times Online
Why oh why ????
'The Phoenix' magazine August 12/05 has observed another slot quietly filled in the government quangos,while Celia was getting high profile coverage. One Joe Murphy, a Fianna Fail stalwart and activist from Bertie's own holy of holies, 'St. Lukes' in Drumcondra, has been installed on the board/gravy train of the controversial 127 million Euro 'Digital Hub Project'.Murphy's track record includes the publication of a direct mail magazine 'Inside Government' which exclusively targets well heeled civil servants. His enterprise has lost 60,000 euros to date,and two of his previous companies have been (1) Dissolved and (2) struck off the companies register for failing to file accounts.This implies incompetence and carelessness rather than criminality neither the type of qualifications to inspire confidence in the handling of large sums of taxpayers cash.
Bertie's mentor C.J.H. has of course appointed numerous strokers to government companies such as Aer Rianta,Telecom Eireann,Greencore etc etc.over the last three historic decades. Dermot Desmond and Michael Smurfit,are among the most prominent of those who were eventually asked to 'step aside' by their benefactor Charlie, when murky property dealings and 'conflicts of interest' arose as they enriched themselves dealing and wheeling in publicly owned property and land assets. Essentially they were greedy pigs,doing what they do best: However, swilling openly in the public trough was quite unforgivable.It is to be hoped that Bertie's failed businessmen such as Joe Murphy will not be tempted to profit from nefarious contracts or dodgy dealings, while they are entrusted with the expenditure of massive amounts of taxpayers money.
What,s with this digital "Startrek" thing ?
A futuristic starship "Enterprise" captained by "An Taoiseach", Bertie Ahern (the Irish Prime Minister)is now docked at a place called the "National Digital Research Centre" (NDRC) somewhere in the Coombe galaxy.in the centre of Dublin.
This "enterprise" is reputedly Bertie Ahern's brainchild,and will be Irelands "flagship project" in the "digital media sector"of a "futuristic Celtic Tiger"..according to government spin sources
If you are all at sea,by now, so are we.But whatever is is-or was-it was set up by Bertie to support the development of the "digital media enterprises that can move the economy up the technological value chain" (whatever that means)
(One thing is certain it will take Liberties-as all government mad hatter schemes do- with vast amounts of taxpayers money,and when it folds you will only get to hear about it if some intrepid journalist grapples successfully with the so called "Freedom of information act")
At the current rate of expenditure,(rumoured) on this unusual project, citizens may all end up in "The Tenters"another Liberty neighbourhood nearby.
The "Digital starship hub" is thought to be located in the Thomas Street area of Dublin,from where it is to provide "state-of-the-art start up facilitates for early stage, fast growth companies, and established companies, in the digital industry." You may even see the occasional flying saucer as you pass by the derelict St Catherine's Church,in Thomas Street, where Robert Emmet was executed in bygone years.
The "NDRC" (National Digital Research Centre), in this" Digital Hub district", (formerly a haven for druggies,muggers and brewers of black beer) is to represent the type of value-added activity that will contribute to Irelands future "at the forefront of the knowledge society" according to government sources.Kinda like Switzerland maybe?
( It might help take irish broadband access, statistics higher than those of Romania.!) More likely it will trigger more taxation to pay for another misconceived, mismanaged ,misadventure by Bertie and his cronies who need work-"Friends of Fianna Fail."
Crooked auctioneer John Finnegan (a very close Friend of Fianna Fail) who operates a prestigious auctioneering firm in Merrion Row, Dublin represents the real estate end of the scheme at present. He is a big player in the "Enterprise",and has recently been awarded contracts to wheel and deal in digital hub sites, on behalf of Bertie,s pet brainstorm.
Finnegan is a former Ansbacher Account holder ,a crook,a tax dodger and typical of the weasels who appeared before the Mahon Tribunal. Here he was accused him of obstructing justice, in relation to payments to Ray Burke.(Who is not famous for that, nowadays.!) However he is also a friend of the most high,and a favoured one, when it comes to dishing out the dosh.Such little pecadillos do not deter Fianna Fail from maintaining their golden circle.
Business as usual among "Friends of Fianna Fail...."
Socialist party (Joe Higgins ) sniffs the muck on Bertie.
Higgins queries lack of MediaLab finance data
Thursday, 13 October 2005
The Socialist Party TD, Joe Higgins, has said the failure to supply information on salaries and staff numbers at MediaLabEurope could be a cover up for a massive rip off of taxpayers' money.
Mr Higgins was speaking after the Comptroller & Auditor General, John Purcell, told the Public Accounts Committee that he was unable to get financial details from the IT research centre.
The PAC was only able to get figures for 2001 where the average salary was 76,000.
The centre, which was the flagship tenant at the Government's Digital Hub project in the Liberties in Dublin, closed earlier this year despite Government investment of 35.5 million.
Mr Purcell and the Department of Communications were not able to get the numbers employed at MLE each year, the average salary and the severance package for the four managing directors employed during the life of the centre.
SHANNON SHENANIGANS. Down Limerick way, the same pattern of waste and incompetence repeats itself.When plans for a 30-acre "Ennis Information Age Park "("EIAP") were first announced, Shannon Development declared that it had the potential to create 3,500 jobs within 15 years.
However, the company confirmed in May 2006 that just three new small enterprises have been established in the first phase of the EIAP in the past 12 months.!
The company is refusing to disclose how many jobs have been created in the three new enterprises. ! Shame.We need a "freedom of information act " down Shannon way..!
Independent Clare TD James Breen said: "They have no problem stating the number of jobs when the news is good, so it is no surprise that they refuse to release the information when the news is bad.
"The information age park was opened to much fanfare last year and a lot of money has been spent. We were promised great things, but after one year, there is little to show for it."
Shannon Development has spent 11m on the first phase of the information age park. A spokesman confirmed that there are 15 enterprises based in IAPE, employing 40 people.
However, 12 of these enterprises transferred from the Shannon Development-owned Clare Business Centre in Ennis, with just three new enterprises setting up.
He also confirmed that the space let to enterprises is 5,000sq ft and the agency currently has 8,500sq ft available for letting.
Wanto waste makes woeful want.Never a bother for the Soldiers of Destiny though.The waste, the incompetence,-it goes on, and on, and on!.
Congratulations to the one time First Lady of Drumcondra, that 'other woman' the lovely Celia Larkin, on her appointment to Bertie's newest quango, the grandiose named (as always) 'National Consumer Agency'. Her duties will focus on tackling consumer rip-offs such as stealth taxes ;Public Service pay (benchmarking) ; government sinecures , cronyism, rising E.S.B prices, bin taxes, credit card taxes, soaring house prices and double digit increases in annual property rental rates,and much more. She will be empowered to cap all excessive pay demands and indirect taxation of every type. Non co-operating unions will be fined -or worse- have their assets seized, just as Maggie Thatcher once sorted out the powerful miners unions of old in John Bull,s country.
The lovely Celia takes home modestremunerationof about 30,000 Euros per annum (Joe Soaps annual average income) for shifting her Mercedes in the direction of the meeting place of the above mentioned quango,half a dozen times a year...
According to the 'Farmers Journal' newspaper, Celia has extensive business experience of all sorts and was recently running a high fashion consultancy/advice service, presumably for upwardly mobile farmers wives, intent on making good use of the C.A.P.decoupling cheques arriving soon in the post from Brussels.( If Tony Blair does not get his hands on them first))!
Celia's seductive sounding 'Blue Room' beauty parlour in Drumcondra, is also waxing and waning somewhat, due to the high cost of an all over body shave,and an unusual esoteric 'laying on of hands' procedure which purpots to channel her 'personal energies', to the lucky recipient, for a hefty fee.She may have perfected this technique in Bertie's constituency headquarters where she spent 10 long years channeling everything of herself, according to herself ,- Bertie's way.. Her advise concentrates on two elements - style and colour. A colour consultation lasts for up to two hours and costs 105 Euros. A similar session on style makes about an hour, and costs Euros70. If you have the time and money, Celia offers the two for Euros150. "At the end of a session you'll know that what you're wearing is right for you, how to accessorise it and what makeup best suits you," she said.
Bertie's make up is the best.
Style is something which her old flame Bertie, has never lacked. Briefcases of lucre digouts laid on the table for her in St Lukes, like breakfast or dinner served by a faithful lover.
As for colour, the daily diet of press releases which the government propaganda office disseminates to the waiting media, has it in spades.When it comes to make up, according to information released under the freedom of information act , Bertie's mascara and lipstickï¿½costs the taxpayer 500 Euros weekly.! No wonder he keeps looking so wholesome on those T.Vinterviews and press photogtaphs.For sure nobody makes it upas well asour Bertie.! Our thanks to Celia.
Besides finding time to greet clients in her upmarket beauty parlour and hair coiffeur service in Drumcondra, Celia provides a grooming service for dowdy dressers.She loves working with small groups of women and for a very reasonable fee will travel anywhere in the country to give her advice. Reality is, she hardly needs cushy well paid sinecures in Bertie,s innumerable quangos, but ,as with Monica Leech, the extra few hundred thousand Euros,will allow her to put a decent Mercedes sports coupe on the road. Image is everything in the glamorous world of the nouveau riche party workers who labour unremittingly for the re-election of the Soldiers of Destiny. Read more:
Besides she could make a million Euros in the morning with a 'kiss and tell tale of tempestous nights,and intrigue filled days working in Bertie's lair,St Lukes' in Drumcondra.
Her seamy-I mean steamy- novel would outsell Terry Keane's Charlie Haughey scribblings by a factor of ten.
Yes, the Celia Lark-in show will run and run. Long live Monica Leech .The best may be yet to come.Slowly slowly..catchee-
"Come along Celia. Break the code of Omerta.be Ireland's first 'penitenti' Tell us what you know.!"
We will even relocate you to Killaloe, under the Witness Protection Act.
More on Consumer protection
A TRADITIONAL Fianna Fail steak dinner for two with all the trimmings and washed down with a bottle of Eddie Hobbs' infamous "sauvignon blanc" wine will cost you nearly Euros120 at Fianna Fail T.D./Soldierofdestiny's Deputy Donie Cassidy's Dublin hotel.
The Mullingar TD went to war with Ireland's messianic consumer champion Hobbs in September 2005
T.V. series 'Rip-Off Ireland' has targeted the high cost of food, drink and entertaining which goes right to the heart of Deputy Cassidy's extensive business interests in hospitality.
As Chairman of the Dail's Enterprise, Trade and Employment Committee, Cassidy took the unusual step of recalling the all-party group to discuss Hobbs' programmes,warning that the detection of any inaccuracies would have "serious implications for RTE". But Deputy Cassidy need only have looked at prices in his own hotel to gauge the cost of going out in the capital. Cassidy's hotel ironically occupies the site of the infamous Groome's Hotel in Parnell square - the legendary Fianna Fail drinking den where the men in mohair suits caroused away in the Sixties.
Cassidy owns two Dublin hotels and is building another.He once played the blues (sax) in a band, and was an established comedian, (according to Wikipedia) before taking to politics-a rolefor which he was eminently qualified,I suppose.He also owned the National Wax Museum in Dublin. He also owns Celtic Note a Music Store in Dublin's Nassau Street and since 1984 has had the franchise to sell CD's and DVD's in Dublin Airport.Another seasoned FF campaigner and waffler is the bould Mary O Rourke. Mary was a sister of the now deceased former TD Brian Lenehan,who postumously created more of a stir in death,than he ever did in life He will be long remembered as the"CJH-stole-my-liver-transplant-fund" TD who was shafted by his buddy CJH when expedience demanded his removal..)
Mary lost her seat to Donie some years back, but unfortunately took her revenge by, in turn, taking him out in the 2007 general elections (when political scoundrels fall out.. watch out).
Bertie moved quickly to give Donie a lifetime payola in the much coveted " retirement home for worn out politicians of the third age"(The Seanad).If Donie lives long and Mary passes on,who knows..Donie could bounce back to a cabinet post in June 2012.? (He has sturdy sons who now manage his business empire)
Anyway, a fillet steak in a juniper berry sauce would have set you back a hefty Euros25, in 2005, in Donies plush hotel.Fancy some sauteed mushrooms with that Sir? That will be another Euros3.50. French fries? Another Euros3.50. Side Salad? Yet another Euros3.50. Add a starter of plaice stuffed with spinach, lightly poached in a court boullion with a spaghetti leek garnish at Euros7.50, and the cost of this delightful meal in Restaurant Six at Cassidy's is mounting.
Hobbs maintained that a winemaker could expect to get just 2.05 for a bottle of white Bordeaux. Restaurateurs were enraged when he alleged that the same wine is being sold in Irish restaurants for 24 - almost 12 times as much, though there is excise duty, Vat, transport costs and the wine dealer's profit to be taken into consideration.
Cassidy's Hotel has a good wine list, including two whites made with the sauvignon blanc grape. A nice New Zealand bottle from the international selection is Euros 25 while the house selection features a "Rosario Estate" sauvignon blanc from Chile at Euros 20.
With desserts at Euros5.50, and an Irish coffee at Euros5.50, that meal for two people with a bottle of the cheaper house wine at Cassidy's comes in at a hefty 117 Euros.
A pint - another Hobbs hobby horse - is 3.95 while draught lager is 4.50 and bottled beers sell for 4.60 minimum. A measure of spirits is 3.70 while a bottle of still water (250ml) is 2.40. The prices reflect the current regime in the vast majority of pubs and hotels in Dublin where more and more consumers are voting with their feet and staying at home. Mr Cassidy said in an interview that he paid 1.65m for Groomes Hotel and then spent a further 6.4m on it,bankrolled no doubt by tax reliefs/incentives paid for by ordinary workers
He also revealed that he and his sons have three Sky Music shops in Dublin Airport. A price check by the Irish Independent showed a significant mark-up on CDs compared with suburban record shops. Deputy Cassidy was not available for comment.
Slowly,slowly,catchee monkey.You could not makethis stuffup.
either.!! Yes, in September 2007 Multi-millionaire Donie lost his post in the Fianna Fail front line. He is settling into old age in the Senate.He hardly needs the extra hundred grand a year.Its an ego trip,I suppose, before the coffin makers measure him up.!
SBertie's teeth were paining him. the dentist had warned him about the damage he was doing by constantly waffling and lying through his teeth to the Tribunal. He continued to abuse his mouth,and his teeth got worse. Finally Bertie had to go to a dental surgeon to have a tooth pulled. The dentist pulls out a freezing needle to give the man.
"No way! No needles! I hate needles!" Bertie said.
The dentist starts to hook up the laughing gas and the man again objects. "I can't do the gas thing - the thought of having the gas mask on is suffocating to me!"
The dentist then asks if Bertie has any objection to taking a pill.
"No objection," Bertie says, "I am fine with pills."
The dentist then returns and says, "Here's a Viagra tablet."
Bertie says, "Wow - I didn't know Viagra worked as a pain killer!"
"It doesn't," said the dentist, "but it will give you something to hold on to when I pull out your tooth."
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Why waste thousands on a costly bronze effigy in Kerry or elswhere ??(such as below)
Having trouble sleeping? If so, you are not alone.Even An Taoiseach, Mr Ahern has restless nights recently.
Two thirds of Irish politicians say they have frequent sleep problems, with few of them getting the recommended eight hours of sleep that are necessary for good health, safety and effectively combining the work of running the nation and tending to their numerous business interests.
Whatever the root cause of the problem -whether its insomnia, stress or other reasons -a few modifications to your sleeping quarters could mean the difference between counting sheep and enjoying well-earned sleep.
The obvious starting point is your mattress.
Choosing a cheap model is false economy because it will lose its shape sooner rather than later, sag in the middle and, worse still, its springs may dig into you.
The ideal mattress is one that has a firm core support that will hold your spine(and your cash) in correct alignment.
Mattresses which have individual fabric storage pockets, that mould to the shape of your neck are probably the most popular in Fianna Fail circles.The best quality can comfortably support two people and cash to the value of 300,000 euros in any currency.
As well as using appropriate bedding materials, consider changing your bedroom decor to one that promotes calm and tranquillity. According to the principles of colour psychology, bedrooms should be painted in soft neutral colours which encourage relaxation.
Green( the colour of most bank notes) is commonly cited as an ideal choice as it is very calming and is believed to soothe an overactive brain.You might consider a wall to wall job using Sterling or Dollars instead of wallpaper.
Soothing wall colours and sound mattresses are not the only way to reduce stress. A messy sleeping quarters can encourage a chaotic and active mind. loose cash lying around can be distracting and disconcerting.By clearing out your clutter and investing in some stylish storage solutions, like a large wall safe you will be surprised by how relaxed you feel when its time for your head to hit the pillow.
Most safe manufacturers sell a wide selection , including wall embedded, stand alone, and under floor safes which are set in concrete (where you wish some politicians were..) The full range of mattresses and strongboxes are on display in our "St Lukes" showroom in Drumcondra..
The Taoiseach’s former "life partner" put tribunal woes behind her to torment a few journalists and give some insights into ‘Brand Bertie’ in Adare, Co Limerick
TWO LARGE piles of complimentary newspapers rested on the reception desk yesterday at the Woodlands House Hotel in Adare. “Celia faces tax probe over €30,000 house ‘loan’” screamed the front-page splash.
But Celia Larkin, “highly regarded image consultant and personal branding consultant”, was in no mood to talk about the personal branding implied in the headline or the effect it might have on her image.
She refused to consult on the matter.
Ms Larkin was the main speaker of the morning at a one-day Personal and Business Branding Workshop, hosted by the Limerick County Enterprise Board and aimed at "women in business". Sixty women had signed up to hear her insights on the subject, lunch included.(Some of them journalists and the rest, affluent farmers wives)
The journalists who paid their 20 euro (pretty cheap to see Celia in the flesh) registration fee came in search of a different set of insights from the Taoiseach’s former life partner.
Namely, what are the facts behind Bertie Ahern’s astonishing Mahon tribunal revelation that Celia emerged from their relationship with sole ownership of a fine house in Dublin, financed by an undocumented loan of £30,000 from Fianna Fáil funds? And can she remember any more details of their joint financial dealings when he was minister for finance? Given that the combined might of the Mahon tribunal had severe difficulty making much headway in either department, it was highly unlikely that a handful of curious hacks were going to be treated to any further explanation. Which, predictably, turned out to be the case.
Nonetheless, the exercise was not a fruitless one. The morning yielded a fascinating glimpse into why “Brand Bertie” has been such a runaway success. It was impossible to come away from the event without thinking that Ms Larkin played a very significant role in making “Brand Bertie” work.
Celia drove her 08-registered Mercedes into the hotel car park at half past nine. As she walked towards the building, she received a call on her mobile phone, looked across and saw the small knot of waiting journalists. Whereupon she returned to the car and removed her coat, thus allowing the thrilled cameramen to photograph her in her exquisite beige fitted suit as she made her way to the front door.
A radio reporter fired questions about the controversial Dublin house and possible tax implications, but Celia kept her head bowed, continued walking and said nothing. The reporter filed his story, his voice interspersed with the loud clickety-clack of her heels.
Celia looked fabulous, every inch the successful businesswoman in her chic designer suit and elegant shoes.( FF, is the only party in town)
Her audience of businesswomen gave her a warm welcome. She was introduced as “a lady well known for her entrepreneurial skills” and the owner of three beauty salons. Celia said she intended to talk about “personal branding”. She spied the journalists in the back row and, cooler than a cucumber in an eskimo’s fridge, she smiled down in recognition.
“A strong personal brand is of vital importance - it takes control of the process of how others perceive you,” she counselled. “It is much better to take control, as it places you in a strong leadership position and helps you increase your earning potential.”
The businesswomen scribbled away; the reporters’ notebooks nearly went up in flames.
Creating a brand requires a mix of elements, including excellence, visibility, lifestyle, leadership, personality, persistence and goodwill, she said. Find your niche and specialise in it.
As she spoke, Celia walked up and down the main aisle of the hotel ballroom. She stopped near the back row and turned to the journalists.
“Now, Miriam,” dripped Bertie’s former life partner, who has been coming in for a ferocious amount of stick from this column, “how do you specialise?”
The obvious answer, were one as together as Celia, would be to reply “by writing about the Mahon tribunal, unexplained large sums of cash, Bertie Ahern and your part in the story”. But we muttered politely about writing colour for The Irish Times .
Celia spun on heels and told the ladies that “Miriam specialises as a colour writer within a newspaper”. (Just like in the tribunal, Celia makes a big thing about first names.) Miriam, she pointed out, is an excellent example of branding.
However, she went on to cruelly dash my hopes of getting a start on the Wall Street Journal by declaring that, were I to “write in a serious way about economics and business”, I would “dilute the brand”.
These were real Bertie Ahern tactics. He is notorious for the way he seeks out journalists who have just written the most awful stuff about him and being mortifyingly nice to them.
But then, in the words of Celia, “when somebody complains, it is how you deal with the complaint that matters”. Goodwill is important too. She also stressed that “good judgment” is vital - unfortunately, it went out the window with Bertie when he took cash from private sources for his personal use when in ministerial office.
The famously closed Drumcondra Mafia came to mind when she advised her audience that it is not necessary to be famous, or have wide appeal, when developing a brand. “Just keep it within a small domain,” she said. “Keep it tight.” The similarities with “Brand Bertie” and the woman behind “Beauty at Blue Door” just kept coming.
Crow over your achievements, be professional, increase your visibility, your popularity and your earning potential. Two people might do the same job, but everyone automatically assumes that the one they see more is doing a better job.
And remember, ladies, “every penny counts”. (And in no time at all, you too could be lodging large amounts in the bank.) Be distinctive - it could be the way you look, or the way you speak. Like Madonna, remarked Celia, or Cilla Black.
Or Bertie Ahern, we thought.
Sometimes, though, it is hard to follow the rules. “Avoid confusion by keeping it simple,” declared Celia. She obviously didn’t pass that one on to You Know Who.
It was quite the strangest morning, as an unfazed Ms Larkin questioned this reluctant journalist and RTÉ’s Cathy Halloran time and again about their jobs. She was clearly enjoying herself, although the same can’t be said for the one man in the audience, a young reporter from the Irish Independent doing his best to melt into the carpet at the top of the room.
Her motivational spiel is very good: all buzzwords and the blindingly obvious, but delivered with confidence and panache. As the relieved Indo man pointed out afterwards, he could apply the same principles to his football team.
When it was all over, the woman at the centre of a tribunal storm walked back to her car, tight-lipped, refusing to return the favour by answering the questions of those she had questioned earlier.
Should Celia Larkin ever consider closing down Beauty at Blue Door, she has a great career ahead of herself in Bluster at Brass Neck.
Excuse the language, but the lady had more balls than the entire Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.
How on earth is Bertie managing without her?
© 2008 The Irish Times
Ed: She was laughing at you all. Bottom line-she knew that none of the corruption mattered a whit.Nobody would be brought to account. Nobody would go to jail. All that the media or the Mahon tribunal would bring to the light of day, would not touch one of the crooked politicians or their mistresses, in any way.
BERTIE AHERNS strangled explanation to the Mahon Tribunal forCelia Larkins 30,000 loan in 1993 was that Celias elderly relations were then threatened with the house being sold under them and/or that they would be required to share the house with new tenants. Explaining the situation facing Celias relations at the time, Bertie offered the usual gobbledygook and for good reason.
Bertie told the tribunal that "the elderly people were frightened" and that the matter had caused "emotional difficulties", giving the clear impression that their security oftenure was threatened. And a letter from Celias solicitors to the tribunal stated that the deceased owners family sought to either sell the house or bring in extra tenants to the house. In another remark to the tribunal, Ahern said that the house was up for sale. The fact is, that Celias relatives would have had the full protection of the then existing law in the event of any threat of eviction. In 1993, Celias relations were in occupancy for well over 20 years (more than 35 years, according to Berties tribunal evidence) and if any landlord had attempted to evict them they would have been entitled to claim and secure a "renewable long occupation equity lease" of up to 35 years.
If they lived for the next 35 years, they would also have been entitled to the same lease again and so, effectively, would have had tenure in perpetuity.
Tenants in this situation were entitled under the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Act, 1980 to free legal aid to bring their case to the Circuit Court where a market rate for the rent could be imposed if the two sides did not agree and which would be reduced to reflect any improvements made by the tenant.
All of these protections were available to Celias relations in 1993 and interestingly, Bertie referred to the emotional difficulty facing three very old people who were facing the prospect of having to go to court with a landlord. What he did not say is that their case in any such court action would have been cast iron. So why the necessity of loaning Celia 30,000 to save her relations from the bailiffs?
Of all the denials and dissembling remarks that Bertie has made in the Dail and
at the tribunal, his claim that he did not know anything about the 30,000 loan to Celia until after it was sanctioned by trustees in charge of the B/T account, is the
most unbelievable. Bertie is the original control freak, his easy, Dubalin persona notwithstanding and no organisational detail of his political operation is too trivial or unimportant to avoid his scrutiny, especially in his constituency backyard and especially not 30,000.
Secondly, The Lads, who occupied all positions of trust and influence in Berties apparatus, were mostly antagonistic to Celia; the notion that they would have acquiesced in the effective donation of 30,000 of party money in 1993 to the woman they commonly and cordially loathed, without being ordered to by Bertie, is, again, unbelievable.
The basic facts are that Celia got 30,000 from Fianna Fail funds to buy a house that cost 40,000 at the time although as shown above, there was no possibility of her
relations being evicted at that time. Having paid back the loan with interest a few months ago over 14 years later and clearly under pressure of the tribunals agenda this house is now worth approx 700,000 and it is owned, according to evidence given at the tribunal, by Celia.
Most ironically, if Celias relations were in the same situation now, they would most certainly have reason to be fearful because of stringent new legislation affecting what
are called "long term equity lease tenancies". These tenancies which Celias relations would have been entitled to in 1993 are to be abolished in September of next year under an Act introduced by none other than Berties brother, Noel Ahern, the minister of state responsible for housingwhen the bill was introduced over four years ago.
Sunday December 14 2008
TIDINGS of comfort and joy indeed. Last weekend in Clontarf Castle, Bertie Ahern sent a very clear message to the nation. No, alas, not word of his return to lead the country out of the morass -- that would be too much to hope for right now. The message that came across loud and clear was that he has love in his life (apart from that of the Irish people) and it is one Anna Bogle.
At his annual Christmas hooley on the Northside, he and Ms Bogle held hands very publicly. Anna, in a long, red evening gown, was done up to the nines, her hair coiffed to perfection. The couple arrived together at 8pm and left together a little after 2.15am on Sunday morning, when Bertie's new driver came to whisk them away into the Christmas night.
Various big property developer cronies of the Soldiers such as "Coach & Four" Jim Mansfield, were also in evidence..
Unlike previous years, Anna sat with Bertie at his table. There was no sign of the significant previous loves in his life -- Miriam Ahern or Celia Larkin.
A Drumcondra mole on the night told me: "It was good to see the boss so happy with Anna at this difficult time for the country. None of us really ever knows what he is up to with his love life, but they were very much together on Saturday night." Joy to the world, indeed.
"Taoiseach 'must bear responsibility for dismal failure' of cutting-edge Medialab project"
TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern was yesterday accused of bearing personal responsibility for the "flaky" pet project Medialab Europe that failed with a loss of more than €35m of taxpayers' money.
The Taoiseach's idea of developing an information technology hothouse came after a visit to the United States.
He believed that it would help to secure Ireland's reputation as being at the cutting edge of hi-tech research.
But after it became apparent that the whole project was failing because of a post-September 11 downturn in the sector, the State continued to support it.
With the backing of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it was envisaged that Medialab Europe would become the anchor tenant of a new "digital hub" in the Liberties area of Dublin.
But the Dail Public Accounts Committee branded the project a complete flop that persisted at huge expense for five years.
And PAC chairman Michael Noonan said the fault lay with "the Government collectively, and the Taoiseach's Department, and the Taoiseach personally".
As it began to fail spectacularly, responsibility for Medialab Europe was transferred from the Taoiseach's Department to that of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.
But Mr Noonan stressed that this department bore no responsibility for what had happened.
The PAC revealed that a 1999 report into Medialab used words such as "dismal", "surprisingly weak", "inexplicably dismal", "mediocre", "flaky", "not sufficiently industry-focused", "very mediocre" and "disappointing" about the entire concept.
But the Government went ahead and established it anyway. And because it tied itself to contractual arrangements with the MIT, the State was "hamstrung", even though a rescue plan was prepared within Government at one point.
Because of the legal position that ceded almost all power to MIT, "when things went wrong, the State was in a very bad position to pull any irons out of the fire," Mr Noonan said. He suggested that many on the Irish side had been "overawed by the academic reputation of the MIT" when putting the deal together, thereby failing to safeguard the State's interests.
Mr Noonan said that the damning report into the Medialab fiasco published yesterday had been agreed unanimously by all 12 members of the PAC, although it was noted yesterday that all six government members were absent from the report's launch.
The Medialab concept had been launched "with the usual marketing and PR and spin-doctoring" that attended all large proposals, but had ended after five years with €35.5m "down the tubes", not counting the rent-free allocation to the project for that period of a prestigious building acquired by the Office of Public Works for €22.5m.
Mr Noonan said that the original idea might have been a good one but everything had gone wrong thereafter, while the State had failed to put itself in a position of having the most basic powers of control.
The report declares: "There were inadequate structures to provide for meaningful state influence in Medialab Europe, bearing in mind the scale of public investment." An appointed liaison committee was "not effective as a communication channel".
The PAC recommends that such projects in future "should be based on full risk assessment, appropriate corporate governance, detailed monitoring procedures and the supply of information".
And it says that in major projects financed by state grants, payments should be linked to the achievement of performance targets.
At the same time, "the State's partners in high-risk ventures should underpin their participation with appropriate financial contributions," the report said. And there was none from MIT, which was instead paid €10.6m from the purse of Irish taxpayers.
Who is Laura Magahy?- a friend of Monica Leech by any chance?
TDs were unable to obtain the salary details of individual executives and board members of the failed Medialab Europe project, the Dail Public Accounts Committee said.
The available information provided by the liquidator from the audited accounts showed that "average staff and board remuneration was high" and that Medialab "haemorrhaged cash".
The figures show that average staff numbers were 60 in 2002, with wages and salaries amounting to more than €4m. This works out at an average salary of €67,000 a year. Directors were paid €57,000 for their services the same year and shared a further €360,000 for unspecified "other services".
Also in 2002, a total of €394,000 was paid to staff in "compensation for loss of office" during a period of turbulent personnel changes.
Business figures Laura Magahy and Paddy Teahon were among the high-profile handlers associated with the development and operation of Medialab Europe.
Both were also involved with the Campus Stadium Ireland development company at Abbotstown, whose only flagship achievement has been the controversial National Aquatic Centre.
Ms Magahy is a former director of Temple Bar Properties and Mr Teahon is an ex-secretary at the Department of the Taoiseach.
The full board of Medialab Europe took up office in October 2000 and included Bono of U2, businessman Denis O'Brien and former president of DCU Danny O'Hare, as well as appointments by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Ms Magahy was awarded a widely-reported consultancy contract worth €400,000 a year to advise on the Digital Hub, based in the Liberties, of which Medialab Europe was to be the anchor tenant.
The PAC report quotes an independent consultant as finding productivity to be "very low".
The report says the project was "burning cash at the rate of approximately €500,000 a month" before it was finally shut down.
SENAN MOLONY (Irish Independent)
A few bob extra to cope with unforeseen inflationary factors.
DIRECTORS of State companies are to get fee increases ranging from 40pc to over 80pc, it was announced in June 2006.
The biggest increases will go to the non-executive chairpersons of major State companies who will see their fees rise from €19,000 to €35,000, an increase of 84pc.
Details of a new scale of fees were approved by the Cabinet yesterday on the recommendation of Finance Minister, Brian Cowen. They were last increased in May 2001.
The main winners will be those who chair major bodies such as Aer Lingus (John Sharman); ESB (Tadhg O'Donoghue); RTE (Mary Finan); CIE (Dr John Lynch); Dublin Airport Authority (Gary McGann); An Post (Margaret McGinley) and HSE (Liam Downey).
These companies are among the so-called "Category 1" State firms, the biggest companies, but the increases approved by the Government will apply on a scaled basis to State bodies in all four categories.
This will mean in the case of chairpersons for Category 2 businesses, such as FAS (Peter McLoone) or Enterprise Ireland (Pat Molloy) the figure will increase from €15,000 to €24,000.
In smaller State firms the fees for chairpersons have been increased from €10,000 to €14,000 (Category 3) and from €7,000 to €10,000 (Category 4).
In addition to the fee increases for chairpersons the Cabinet has also approved similar large increases for ordinary non-executive directors who serve on the boards of State companies.
Why?-because they're worth it.! Jobs for the party stalwarts.
Some Goodman beef baron types were upset about Brazilian fillet steak being sold in Irish Restaurants,in Sept 2005. A dozen or two arrived in town and picketed a popular eatery in Temple Bar. The next day Bertie announced new legislation to force restauranteurs to identify the source of their beef on the menu.It's a pity the mountain of more important legislation awaiting Fianna Fail's attention has to join the back of the queue to this kind of crap.
The dairy farmers,also picketed Dunnes Stores not too long ago when the bold Ben attempted to break their bully boy stranglehold on the retail price of milk in our Supermarkets. For 50 years the "Milk Marketing Board" a government quango did the job for them until it was recently abolished as being an outdated body created for no other purpose than to maintain a cartel pricing structure among Dublin's Dairies,when milk was delivered door to door. They lost that particular fight,but milk still sells at an outrageously inflated price in all but a few of the larger supermarket chains.The poor who have no private transport to stock up here still pay the inflated price. Consumer protection agencies and Celia Larkin -how are you.!
Irish Independent.10-11-2005.A FIRM founded by millionaire businessman and Westmeath TD Donie Cassidy has been struck off the company register for failing to return accounts.
Last night Mr Cassidy said those spreading news about the de-listing of Belvedere Hills Ltd were "following their own political agendas," including a few people within his own party. ?
Belvedere Hills is a prestigious development of new homes in Ballinderry, Mullingar, and the company was involved in selling sites and homes in the locality. Mr Cassidy, who lists the firm in the Dail register of members' interests said last night it was "a small little company."
The Irish Independent understands that the striking-off of the firm and listing of it as a defaulter in Iris Oifiguil followed a failure to return accounts to the Companies Office.
Mr Cassidy resigned as a director of 11 companies in November 2003 in order to concentrate on his political career.
The Belvedere Hills firm passed into the control of his son Donal and a fellow director. ( Business as usual )
Mr Cassidy said last night: "The paperwork has been prepared and I expect and understand that this firm will be relisted within the next day or two.
"Everything I am involved with is 100pc. There was no wrongdoing within the firm.
"Naturally, however, I am disappointed that something that should have been done was not done. It will be righted in a short period." Donie you had no right to attack poor Eddie(Hobbs).Everybody is watching you.Watch out-you ratbag.!
A Georgian vision for the city is sent to scrapheap by the bold Donie Cassidy.
IT was a success for country-and-western design over city style, but for many it was seen as a Pyrrhic victory.
Rural Fianna Fail millionaire/T.D. deputy Donie Cassidy's of "Attack Eddie Hobbs infamy" had his controversial vision for Georgian Dublin upheld in the High Court In Sept 2006
Polite residents of the trendy North Great Georges Street area lost their battle to prevent the renewal of a liquor licence for the Belvedere Hotel, another business in Cassidy,s extensive Dublin property portfolio. They had claimed that the Westmeath developer did not uphold his planning permission.
The residents believe the brains behind Foster and Allen's music, who is a director of the premises, is destroying their stunning streetscape with his alterations to the hotel.
Allegations of late-night discoveries of 18th-century stuccowork in skips and the installation of elephant-paw mouldings had earned "desperate" Donie the disdain of his neighbours.
They include articulate Joycean scholar David Norris and couturier Jen Kelly, who live in stylish, protected structures nearby.
The residents awaited the outcome of their application for a judicial review of the handling of their objection to the renewal of the hotel's liquor licence, in court five of the High Court.
In the end, references to the well-known North Great George's Street in Joyce's 'Ulysses' were not enough to outwit the former showband star's Martin Cullen like destructive plans for another little part of the Heritage of old Dublin.
Should somebody call Eddie Hobbs..'
They steal 5 million Euros from the public and only the ringleader is fined 15000 Euros.?
. Suspended sentence for official in oil cartel case .
A retired Fianna Fail (Mayo) businessman and GAA activist has been given a six-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay a €15,000 fine over his involvement in a home-heating oil cartel.
Judge Katherine Delahunt at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court said JP Lambe, chairman of the Connacht Oil Promotion Federation, had participated fully in this criminal activity and was an experienced businessman.
She said that "without his talent, acumen and knowledge, this kind of distortion could probably not have functioned at any significant level".
The court heard that, as a result of the cartel's price fixing, customers were paying perhaps 10 per cent more than they would have otherwise and were out of pocket by up to €4.4 million.
Lambe (69), of Brookhill, Claremorris, pleaded guilty to two counts of aiding and abetting a named oil company to enter agreements to prevent, restrict or distort competition and thereby directly or indirectly fix the selling price of gas, oil and kerosene.
The former treasurer of Mayo GAA county board and Mayo representative of the Central GAA Council took an unpaid and part-time position as chairman of the federation, which agreed to fix prices. Lambe had a long career in the oil industry and was approached to act as an independent arbitrator to facilitate agreement between oil distributors in Galway.
David McFadden, a solicitor and officer of the Competition Authority, told George Birmingham SC, prosecuting, that he led an investigation into the activities of "the great bulk" of oil distributors in Galway.
Mr McFadden said that ostensibly competing companies in Galway came together under a trade association called the Connacht Oil Promotion Federation and entered agreements to fix prices.
Mr McFadden said that, while the Competition Authority had not gone into the actual effect of the price fixing, the estimated cost to the public was possibly €4.4 million over a 12-month period and it was possible that prices were 10 per cent higher than they would otherwise have been.
The investigation revealed a high level of conformity across many distributors in the area and meetings were held to agree a tiered pricing structure. Between June 2001 and February 2002 Lambe chaired 18 meetings across Galway.
Mr McFadden said there was a "high level of participation" among distributors, although a small number refused to get involved. Lambe sought to induce those not involved to join the cartel.
Roderick O'Hanlon SC, defending, said his client owned his own home, was on a pension and had €250,000 in the bank in his and his wife's name. Mr McFadden agreed with Mr O'Hanlon that Lambe was unpaid, only recovered expenses, and was not party to the illegal gains made. A (Mighty Mayo) crook working for nothing-thats something new!
Crime pays well, and fraud pays absolutely.!
© The Irish Times March 2006