Parallel universes have become quite the topic du jour lately, with Denis O’Brien threatening to sue Waterford Whispers for a satirical article. Deducing solely from a letter written by Meagher Solicitors on behalf of Denis O’Brien, the article seems to have lampooned the mega-billionaire, describing how, in a parallel universe, a different parallel Denis O’Brien receives a 20-year prison sentence for improper payments to parallel politicians.
They assert that this satirical article is defamation which of course requires that a person’s reputation be lowered in the eyes of a right-thinking member of society.
Did the Waterford Whispers post lower Denis O’Brien in my estimation as a right-thinking member of society?
I already held him in extremely low esteem after the things said about him by the Moriarty Tribunal which, found that he had paid a government minister large amounts of money and that the same minister subsequently helped him to secure the second mobile phone licence on which his fortune is based. Denis O’Brien did not sue the Moriarty Tribunal for these findings, even though they are, on the face of it, grossly defamatory if they are untrue.
He did, however, choose to issue legal threats to a bloke with a laptop on his kitchen table, which is essentially what Waterford Whispers amounts to.
He also chose to issue legal proceedings against our national parliament, for failing to discipline elected members who spoke disrespectfully about him.
Now, the fundamental law in Ireland is the Constitution. It’s the document on which everything else is based, and it’s written in reasonably plain language, as all laws should be.
Anyone can understand this.
The members of each House of the Oireachtas shall, except in case of treason as defined in this Constitution, felony or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest in going to and returning from, and while within the precincts of, either House, and shall not, in respect of any utterance in either House, be amenable to any court or any authority other than the House itself.
Let’s leave out the bit about being stopped on the way to the House and focus on the part that annoys Denis.
The members of each House of the Oireachtas … shall not, in respect of any utterance in either House, be amenable to any court or any authority other than the House itself.
Got that? It’s so simple, even a billionaire could get it. Even a billionaire’s lawyer, for that matter.
Translated into even simpler language, it says that no court in the land can tell elected members what not to say in the national parliament. It says that the parliament can make its own mind up about its own rules. And by implication, it says that if angry billionaires don’t like it, they can go and get stuffed.
Ireland, despite all its flaws, is a constitutional democracy, not a country where some random oligarch can dictate the shape of the law, but Denis doesn’t seem to understand that. Perhaps Denis has been spending too long in the land of Papa Doc and Baby Doc where no such concerns have ever applied.