Saturday 25 October 2014

Now O'Leary says he's 'misunderstood'

David Raleigh

Published 11/11/2013 | 02:00

Michael O'Leary with Orlaith McManus, Co Fermanagh, and Donia Arafa, Co Roscommon, at University Limerick. Alan Place

OUTSPOKEN Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has changed his opinion of himself from being a "neanderthal" to someone "occasionally misunderstood".

He has also jokingly likened himself to a Jesus Christ figure.

The airline boss appeared to tone down recent remarks he made to a British newspaper on women in the workplace and a father's role in parenting.

In Limerick on Saturday, Mr O'Leary said: "We welcome women into the workplace. Ryanair employs 5,000 of them, and the points (in the article) I made were that they (reporter) asked me do we encourage women in the workplace.

"I said you have to. The economies that don't, or that discourage women to the workplace, are doomed to failure."

Asked if he really believed he was a "neanderthal", he said: "No. I just think I'm a warm, cuddly, soft human being, just occasionally misunderstood."

Last week, the father of four said he believed men should not be at the birth of their children. "Fathers who feign interest at that stage are making it up," he said.

In a self-written biography, which featured in the JP McManus sponsored All-Ireland Scholarship Awards pamphlet, where he was guest speaker at the weekend, Mr O'Leary compared himself to Jesus: "Born in a stable in 1961, he was a boy genius, who excelled both academically and at sports.

"He then became another boring KPMG accountant until divine inspiration sentenced him to a life of penal servitude in the airline business as he is unsuitable for a job in any properly functioning industry."

Mr O'Leary also addressed the All-Ireland Scholarships at University Limerick, where 125 highly academic students were presented with scholarships from Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Northern Ireland Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry.

The scheme is the brainchild of horse racing tycoon Mr McManus, who has funded it to the tune of €32m.

Irish Independent

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