A Tale of Two Seáns — Quinn Gives Radio Interview

I met Seán Quinn once, and I found him an amiable, approachable sort of fellow with a good line in self-deprecatory wit.  He wasn’t slow to admit his own role in the financial disaster that overtook his companies and I liked him for his honesty.  He was a million miles removed  from the inflated, pompous fools like Seán FitzPatrick and AIB’s Brian Goggin, a man who once lamented on national TV that he’d get less than €2 million in salary that year.

What’s more, Quinn is spoken of around Cavan as a man without airs and graces, who was perfectly happy in the corner of some small pub playing penny poker with the locals and enjoying a few sociable pints.  That’s when he wasn’t busy being the richest man in Ireland, of course.  They say he always paid up on his poker debts, even if he lost fifty quid or more, and he’d always stand a round when his driver came to collect him.

Decent man, Seán.  One of our own.  It reminded me of the Richard Harris myth in Limerick.

I don’t know if you heard his  interview on Shannonside Northern Sound today.  I chanced across it on Newstalk, and I have to say it’s the most extraordinary mix of self-pity, arrogance, delusion and spin that you’re likely to hear this side of Bertie Ahern crying on the Six-One News.

Like all normal people, my first instinct was to feel sorry for this decent individual whose son is in jail.  That can’t be easy and as a father I felt my heart jump a little, in sympathy with a man who says his family mean everything to him.  He spoke of protecting his good name, and of how it means more to him than all the money in the world.  He spoke of how he built up his business and never owed any man.  He spoke of putting his wealth beyond the grasping reach of the corrupt bank, Anglo.

He very nearly had me, until I remembered that this is not Anglo pursuing him for three billion euros of our money.  This is IBRC, a  company set up to try and recover all the billions thrown away by Anglo and by Fingleton, including the money Anglo fraudulently lent to people  in order to prop up the value of their own shares.

He very nearly had me believing that a man who was once Ireland’s richest, and who ranked around 150th in the entire world for wealth, was somehow fooled and seduced into accepting a loan he didn’t understand.

Nearly, but then the less sympathetic side of me started asking uncomfortable questions.

Why is he calling himself and his family scapegoats?  Did he or did he not borrow this money in an illegal attempt to inflate Anglo shares?  Does he or does he not owe this money back to IBRC, a wholly State-owned company?  Is it not true that if IBRC fail to recover the money, it will have to be found through higher taxation or further cuts in services?

Why does he keep talking about Anglo, the hated bank that sank Ireland?  IBRC is not Anglo.  IBRC is trying to recover some of the money lost by Anglo in its numerous dodgy deals, including the money he owes to the Irish people.

Anglo, in Sean Quinn’s delusional world, was at fault for lending the €3 billion, not the Quinns for taking out those loans.  In other words, Quinn is looking for a fool’s pardon, in pretty much the same breath where he claims that his enterprise was the best company in the history of the State.  So which is it?  Was Seán Quinn an idiot or was he the best businessman the country has ever known?  He can’t have it both ways, except in Cavan where they regard him as a hero.  (I’ll resist all temptation to mention the shape of the old 50p piece and move right along from here).

Apparently oblivious to the carry-on of his fugitive nephew, Peter Quinn, Seán emphasises in the interview that he was never one to jump on an aeroplane and run away from trouble.  Seán claims to be a victim of an Anglo PR campaign, while at the same time talking about the court’s feelings, as if the judges made their findings about his activities based on how they felt when they woke up in the morning.

Listen to this for delusional talk:

We were retaining our own assets and they were moving illegally on these assets.  Obviously the court didn’t feel that way and the court felt that we had taken these assets illegally.

Wrong.  The court didn’t feel anything.  The court found as a matter of fact, on the evidence presented, that the Quinns had broken the law.

I think this is very revealing.  I think it betrays a widespread attitude in the border counties that the law is only slightly binding.  At no time does he acknowledge that the courts made findings of fact about him, his family and his companies.   Fact, not feelings.  Not prejudices.  Not assumptions — steel-grey facts that he has not denied, including the fact that he and members of his family tried to put assets beyond the reach of IBRC, and therefore beyond the reach of the Irish State.

During the interview, neither Seán Quinn nor the interviewer referred to the things Judge Peter Kelly had to say about a related case.  Let me quote him:

Never before have I seen such conduct on the scale demonstrated here nor with the deviousness with which this scheme has been operated.

The judge said that the Quinn family had operated a scheme that  reeked of dishonesty and sharp practice and that was designed to place assets out of reach.  In granting an injunction against Karen Woods, recently married to Seán Quinn Jr, the court heard that Ms Woods had received an annual salary after tax of €320,000 per annum since  April 2011 from the Quinns’ Russian associates.  Nice money.  Clearly, the Russians place a high value on Karen’s qualifications, though the courts take a rather less benign view.  The injunction prevented Karen from moving Quinn assets out of reach of their creditors, as if she would.

According to Seán, the media “have fell” hook, line and sinker for the Anglo story.   He hopes that the public will get the proper story in time.

Someone would need to point out to Seán that Anglo is no more, and that the “story” was actually a full-blown court case where all the facts were laid out and examined.  He appears to believe that the entire conflict is still a PR battle and this is where the delusional nature of his thinking becomes most apparent.

Here comes an uncomfortable fact for Seán.  It doesn’t matter what story the public get.  This is the High Court, his son is in jail, his nephew is on the run and he’ll do time himself if he doesn’t give the money back to the State.

That’s it.  Forget about PR campaigns.  Forget about drumming up public support.  The game is up.    Despicable though Anglo was, it didn’t cause Quinn’s problems.  He was the one who made all those appalling decisions, and if he really means what he says about his integrity and his good name, it’s about time he admitted the obvious facts instead of whingeing.

On a personal level, I can’t help but empathise with Seán Quinn, especially when he told the interviewer he was scared of prison, but he couldn’t leave it at that.  He claimed he never owed anyone anything, and that’s where I did a double-take.

Has he managed to separate Seán Quinn, the ordinary father, football player and hard worker from Seán Quinn, Ireland’s richest man?  Is that it?  Does he believe there are two Seán Quinns?

He doesn’t lead a high life, and I know that he’s fond of the odd poker game around Cavan at modest stakes. in modest pubs over a pint or two with old friends.  So maybe that’s what he has in mind when he says he owes nobody anything.  Maybe he means he always bought  his round and always paid his modest gambling losses after a friendly game of cards and a few pints.

But of course, that’s not the Seán Quinn the courts are interested in.  They’re talking about the other guy, who owes this State €3 billion and has no intention of covering his gambling losses, even if he has to go to jail.



19 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Seáns — Quinn Gives Radio Interview

  1. €3 billion…bloody hell, what an amount of money and yet that is all we hear these days, five billion, ten billion, eighty billion….unless Ireland becomes Oil-land we will never see the bottom of it. The money owed and the money taken and given away seems endless, just like the suffering it is causing.

  2. Comment Alert.

    OMF, are you trying to get me sued? Your defamatory comment was blocked. Please switch on your brain. Thanks.

  3. That “widespread attitude that the law is only slightly binding” applies to all 26 counties,not just the border counties.

  4. Bock, my brain is on alright and so is yours. But yours appears to have been been blocked by that all too common affliction of the modern Ireland — tort-o-phobia.

    To clarify my point, I’d like you to really read over my post and tell me which specific parts of the post you consider to be defamatory and why? I’ll add that every part of the post is derived from facts found in court proceedings (apart from the “Derrylin Wolves” part; that’s my own opinion).

    I’m not afraid of the likes of the Quinns and neither should you be. It’s a sad day when a Limerick blogger is living in fear of being sued of people from Northern Ireland who have no problem lying to or running from our courts.

  5. Those parts of your post which quote facts are not a problem. Unfortunately, you also chose to express personal opinions which could easily be construed as defamatory. Whatever you think of my reaction to this, I’m the one who has to take the rap if a commenter goes over the top, and therefore I’m the one who has to decide if a post is appropriate.

  6. What about the two concerned citizens who appeared on Vincent Brown the other night to expose the conspiracy theory, in no way connected to the Quinn PR machine, although they had met the messiah himself.

    While I pay my 2% insurance levy indefinitely, and struggle through this austere economy, I find it difficult to listen to anybody from Cavan or anywhere else defending this dishonest family.

  7. I suppose that one is delusional if rich and if poor – and that the wide (maybe narrow) area between: is delusion also.

    Like, what must be going on in the head, when one thinks that they can command outrageous fees? Do they really believe that they exist in a para-mensa universe where top-end analysis and treatment, are present?

    Are there elements of this type of psychosis also present in the Public Sector – entitlements above and beyond actual worth or input?

    Except that all of this is too common to be known any longer, as delusion – we must change our language to reflect our society, because a society cannot refer to itself as delusional – see America, late 20th and early 21st Century.

    What we need to do, as humans with a nature to adapt, is to re-define our maladies and erhhh….. “move on”.

    A Judge too, may think that he possesses a special insight into the “human condition”, and dole out treatments based on that “insight” – the only body of people who can’t be sued for slander in this country.

    Is it not delusional for a poor person to believe that they can never own a helicopter for going to the pub and evading the traffic corps? Or for a wannabee athlete to aspire to winning a gold in the Olympics – most cannot by virtue of simple mathematics.

    Is CIE not buried in a bucket of loosely assembled delusion, in company with Nama, a very large handful of politicians, the ESB, Eurocrats (local and foreign), Romney, teachers who think that they can learn (rather than copy), Polish experiments with fake tan, bloggers, editors, economists, civil servants apart from the aforementioned teachers, me, you, religious fanatics (the true “believers”), farmers (who see the weather clearing, while cumulon, and Daniel O Donnell…….and I can’t remember the last one.

  8. Damn this computer – it has a mind of its own:)

    Anyway, it would be wreckless to think of Sean Quinn as an intellectual – they rarely begin in the rock business.
    And not an academic either.
    Think of him and most businessmen as oportunists who will leap while we wonder, and remain in poverty.
    It does kinda make sense to grasp money if it is offered to you – tomorrow will look after itself, and you can always
    give the money back.
    You may lose an opportunity through prolonged analysis and morality can be seen to be a waste of time – it probably is,
    and is best left to theologians.
    You shouldn’t think of these people as mathematicians either, beyond the narrow scope of the above. What sort of brain
    would you need to filter the transactions into the billions? If you had such a brain, you wouldn’t stay in the “rock”
    business either.
    It is not possible for a mere mortal. Bill Gates would be lying if he said that he could parse the details of his wealth.

    It is better perhaps to understand the only nature – get up early, stay awake, work, seize any opportunity without meditation,
    employ pencil pushers to do the “womens work”, and drive on.
    Expanding morality – yes, go to Mass like everyone else, and stay in the community.
    It is doubtful that Sean is an avid follower of Constantin Gurgiev on Twitter, devoting his free hours to financial analysis.
    And I really do doubt, that he plays Hockey with the more benign; Megan Greene.
    As you say Bock, and well reported for years; Sean would be more at home in a shit hole pub, than chatting with Stephen Hawkins
    about the complexity of the Universe outside of Cavan (if there is one).

    If anyone was looking; the quarry business has been good for the last fity to sixty years – and likewise for cement.
    The insurance business has been loaded with opportunity for the last thirty years at least – it still is.
    So are we witnessing the evolution of a monster, or is Sean very similar to the businessmen all over Ireland, with the exception
    of scale? My own boss is the same as Sean, and would make the same amount of sense in Court, and would have an equal reputation as a

    And wouldn’t everything be fine, if we only had a semblance to a regulator – both in the Insurance sector and Banking. Surely, all of
    those, couldn’t have the same nature as I attribute to Sean? Could they….I’m getting scared.

    We should never assume that a rich man, is wealthy, in more than one way.

    Again though, where the hell is the legal advice that Sean is getting, if he is. If he can’t afford it (with or without, our money); then
    God help poor sods like us. Or is it that there is no legal advice, such is the transparency in this case – that no legal mind can
    confuse the matter to such an extent, that Sean would truly be seen as a victim – rather than him claiming it himself.

    Television programmes the world over, would have us believe that the rich can buy advice to get them out of almost anything –
    but what we see in this case is pathetic, and nowhere near expectations. Unless, its a most complex strategy, leading us toward the
    pity, which Bock almost succombed to – only, it is not working on anyone. The cheapest of solicitors, would suffice for the richest
    of Irelands men, it seems. I never had undue respect for the rich, and I’m losing all respect for the legal profession – to the point even,
    that I never want to be rich in this country, as I won’t be able to buy protection.

  9. Bock – Quinn schmoozed for years with the FFers, who sailed along on a sea of woolly undefinable concepts – social partnership, light-touch regulation, smoke and daggers etc. Hard cold unambiguous language such as one encounters in the commencial division of the High Court wasn’t what they used. Small wonder then that Quinn can’t cope with the mes he’s in. Saying that he was honest in his personal dealings with local individuals is no defence against what companies under his control have done.
    You make good points about Cavan parochialism. You could say the same about South Kerry and the Healy-Raes, and North Tipp and Lowry. We have this prevalent low-brow attitude of judging people by the evidence before our eyes, whilst blinding ourselves to what we could know about the bigger picture. I think much of it comes from the growth of local newspapers and radio stations – many people now don’t buy or ever read an Irish or British broadsheet, and therefore lack perspective on the larger scale of things.
    Quinn’s local Cavan reputation and good standing, which I have no reason to query, reminds me of Larry Goodman – he had the name of always paying for cattle when he bought them at marts, therefore the farmers were always ready to deal with him again no matter what acrobatics his companies performed.

  10. @fathead – seriously? tl;dr.

    As for the op, good analysis of the situation, Bock. About the man himself, he is either: a) actually completely un self-aware, or b) a borderland conman.

    I know which I think it is.

  11. I was disappointed not to hear the Judge declare that Quinn’s version would open up an appalling vista, but political arrangements can subject even the courts to selective processes. The Judge knew better in any case.
    Quinn; in his opinion, is correct or he isn’t. I don’t know, I can only observe and compare and form an opinion myself but I believe he did nothing any different than he always did along with many others who were also merrily in cahoots with Anglo. It’s how business was done here and no other business model was available in this country, no matter the bank chosen.
    This I know from conversations with some of those not promoted over a decade ago to the top positions in both AIB and BOI. I spoke with some of them at the time and wondered what was going wrong inside the banks but it’s all out in the open now and those passed over for promotion that I spoke with years ago have been prove correct and were not being in any manner bitter losers in the internal politics game in the banks; far from it.
    I believe that Quinn, regardless of the amount of cash involved, is a political victim and scapegoat. He is a criminal in today’s ‘discovered’ legal processes but not by those applicable when he was in full flight and coining it.
    That facts can now surface following the discovery of ‘political honesty’ in Ireland is laughable.
    I suspect this also has a connection to the refusal by the government to reverse the law in the FOI as consistently promised prior to getting elected.
    Politics it seems can be a very dangerous and dirty business.

  12. Displaying all the same traits in the Vincent Browne interview, they can still afford some PR schooling from somebody, still with the “Bad Anglo” references, and now the “do what you like to me, but leave the wife and kids out of it”

    Since when would any of them be described as kids ? They were caught on camera laughing about how they intended to breach court orders ?

    Total delusion about the security given to IRBC of the Russian properties and the right to the family to retain them, as Bad Anglo had never lent them any money to buy them, and Vincent did persist to his credit. As dis Quinn Snr, he should have began the interview with “look into my eyes, look into my eyes, not around the eyes look into my eyes”

    Would have loved to have seen the out-takes.

  13. Displaying all the same traits in the Vincent Browne interview, they can still afford some PR schooling from somebody, still with the “Bad Anglo” references, and now the “do what you like to me, but leave the wife and kids out of it”

    Since when would any of them be described as kids ? They were caught on camera laughing about how they intended to breach court orders ?

    Total delusion about the security given to IRBC of the Russian properties and the right to the family to retain them, as Bad Anglo had never lent them any money to buy them, and Vincent did persist to his credit. As dis Quinn Snr, he should have began the interview with “look into my eyes, look into my eyes, not around the eyes look into my eyes”

    Would have loved to have seen the out-takes.

  14. Did anyone see the interview on VB lastnight? Sean Quinn was making out like he didn’t understand why his collateral was being used to pay the loans!! As for all the shopkeepers housewives, priests, GAA clowns and friends of Seanie, their clear understanding of high finance and their repitition of the word of God is just annoying.

  15. I read a “bit” in yesterdays paper -Sean says that its the Quinn Groups that owe the money, and not him.
    That point seemed valid to me – just like the Wallace lad, doesn’t owe the debts of his company.

    I hadn’t thought of it, this way before – that its the IBRC that owes the State, as they took control – apart from the known separation of a man from an entity, a company.

    I spoke to a lock of Cavan lads at the Galway Races – mixed views, as if anything else was expected; apart even from the elements of the Galway Races and Cavan lads.
    But there is one unusual thing about this whole saga, and that is how it unites the citizens of the land into the usual three camps of thought.
    Pro, con, and the “complex” brain somewhere in the middle – the three are usually wrong, and God help us when we are judged by our “peers”.
    Our peers can believe any damn thing they want to, adding micro-religions to a system already beyond capacity, when it comes to confusion, fantasy and disarray.
    The legal system, a system very like the one above, will add “authority” to the opinion, and may produce an output quite dissimilar to what is expected – or may return the only valid answer in a democracy; that of the G.A.A…
    Although, we must never forget that people do instinctively know what is best for them, something beyond the simplest view of consciousness – the very spirituality which ensures the survival of a species. It can’t be measured by right, wrong, or reason.

    The Judge in Castlebar was wrong, according to herself (that was after she decided she was right enough to say it)..
    Quinn is right, according to himself.
    Bertie Ahern is beyond reproach – ask him.
    The new version (new name actually) of Anglo, hasn’t been wrong yet.
    The G.A.A. is always right ( through sheer volume of dubious opinion – a democratic authority)

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