Sunday 24 September 2017

RTÉ a 'failed monopoly' and Dáil is full of 'half-wits', says O'Leary

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary Photo: Bloomberg
Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary Photo: Bloomberg

Eoghan MacConnell

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has claimed RTÉ is a union-controlled "failed monopoly" which should be privatised.

Speaking following a business breakfast in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, yesterday, Mr O'Leary expressed his belief that "RTÉ should have been privatised years ago".

His comments came after the national broadcaster announced that it would be outsourcing its young persons' programming. "I think the best thing that could happen to RTÉ would be to privatise it. Break it up and sell it and allow it to compete openly and fairly with Newstalk and the private sector media," Mr O'Leary said at the Business in the Midlands event.

"It has been a failed monopoly for many years. It has not served the country well and the sooner it is broken up and sold...the better."

Speaking to a crowd of around 600 in Mullingar Park Hotel, the Ryanair boss also took issue with the coverage of industrial relations matters by the broadcaster. "It is always unions, unions, unions because they control RTÉ," he said. "Can we continue to afford to have this publicly subsidised TV monopoly that just panders to the trade union agenda all the time?"

Mr O'Leary expressed his belief that no organisations should be subsidised. Singling out Radió na Gaeltachta and the Irish Chamber Orchestra, he said if they can't survive independently they should go. He suggested people should also spend less time worrying about the "minority voices" from the likes of the 'Irish Times' and RTÉ.

Mr O'Leary said he believed Irish Rail was "doomed". He urged the transport company to cut its fares to encourage passenger numbers. "It needs to bring down rail fares to really low levels. If I can fly people for nine quid across Europe, why does Irish Rail charge them 30 and 40 quid to get from Dublin to Cork?" he said.

He also had some choice words for the current Dáil, which he said was the "worst assembly of half-wits and lunatics", but said the electorate had to take responsibility.

"We, when given the opportunity, chose to vote in the worst assembly of half-wits and lunatics," he said. "I am referring to the Anti-Austerity Alliance and the Independents in the Dáil, and then we wonder why we do not have decent or strong government."

However, he ruled out any suggestion that he would ever run for political office.

"The answer is no. I am unelectable. Even I wouldn't vote for me if I was running. On the other hand, if we decided we were going have a right-wing dictatorship for maybe six or seven years, I would be up for that. I would happily take on that job," he remarked.

Irish Independent

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