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Wednesday 26 October 2016

O'Brien enlisted help of Clinton to get aid into Haiti after earthquake

Ryan Nugent

Published 12/10/2016 | 02:30

Denis O'Brien Photo: Bloomberg
Denis O'Brien Photo: Bloomberg

Businessman Denis O'Brien has been named in email exchanges as one of the 'Friends of Bill' [Clinton] who asked for special assistance in the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake.

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Emails released in the United States yesterday revealed that Mr O'Brien sought help from the Clinton Foundation to prioritise efforts to get aid into Haiti in the days after the earthquake.

Mr O'Brien is understood to have been aggrieved that he was not getting landing slots in the country to provide assistance and get stranded workers out.

The majority of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, was destroyed during the earthquake which claimed the lives of over 230,000 people.

According to ABC News, Mr O'Brien wrote to long-term Clinton aide Doug Band to seek help in getting on the ground in the Haitian capital to provide assistance.

He wrote that his telecommunications company was being pushed to get communications back up.

"We're finding it impossible to get landing slots," Mr O'Brien said.

"I'm sorry to bother you but I am not making any progress through conventional channels," he added.

Mr Band contacted director of Foreign Policy for the Clinton Foundation, Amitabh Desai, and tasked him with resolving the matter.

Speaking to ABC News, Mr O'Brien said he needed to contact somebody directly in the US as the matter was urgent.

"I don't see any problem contacting anybody in the United States if I'm bringing in emergency aid where people are dying on the street because of lack of medical attention," he said.

"I make no apologies for that," he added.

Irish Independent

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