'Mourning' O'Leary swaps jeans for undertaker's suit
Published 20/11/2010 | 05:00
WHILE all around him people were supping champagne and basking in the magnificence of Dublin Airport's second terminal, Michael O'Leary was in mourning.
The Ryanair boss brought a funeral hearse and coffin to Dublin Airport to mark the opening of Terminal 2 yesterday, saying the multi-million euro spend marked the "death of Irish tourism".
"Irish Tourism RIP" was written on the coffin, which was painted in the green, white and gold of the tricolour. "Died 19 November 2010. Rest in Peace."
Never one to shy away from a bit of free publicity, he looked the part of a local funeral director.
Gone were the jeans, runners and casual shirt, replaced with an undertaker's uniform of black tails, white shirt and black tie, immaculately polished shiny black shoes and a moustache.
An invited guest at the no-expenses spared bash, he wasn't celebrating, on camera at least.
Instead, he adopted a hangdog, downbeat expression for the media. Greeting reporters with "welcome on this sad and solemn day", he was asked what he thought of the new terminal.
"It's lovely," he replied, "And so is the Taj Mahal, but I'll never use it. It's a statement of modern Ireland. A big, bankrupt property development. It's a nice place to welcome IMF executives.
"I had to be escorted in today because they thought I was going to take an elephant. Who needs an elephant when you've Biffo (Taoiseach Brian Cowen), the biggest white elephant of them all."
It was a "palace", he said, which was built during a time when tourism in the country was dying.
Onlookers muttered at the disrespect shown to the Irish flag, while some criticism was also made of a wreath he carried made from poppies -- a symbol of British dead in the two world wars.
Ryanair has refused to move to T2, and has repeatedly criticised the hike in passenger charges used to help finance the €600m project.