Saturday 27 May 2017

Zozimus: Launch - or should we say re-launch - of Kevin Myers's autobiography

According to the financials filed in Dublin last week, directors’ loans to the Libertas Institute stand at €2.3m and Declan Ganley has provided loans to the company himself... at an interest rate of 11pc. Picture: Damien Eagers
According to the financials filed in Dublin last week, directors’ loans to the Libertas Institute stand at €2.3m and Declan Ganley has provided loans to the company himself... at an interest rate of 11pc. Picture: Damien Eagers
Liam Collins

Liam Collins

The Little Museum of Dublin was the ideal venue for the launch - or should we say re-launch - of Kevin Myers's autobiography by none other then the equally verbose Michael O'Leary.

Because the book is something of a museum piece itself.

A little bit like Oslo-Torp airport, which is 73 miles from Oslo, Myers's memoir A Single Headstrong Heart, launched on Wednesday, is not quite as it seems.

As far as we can remember the exact same book, with the exact same cover, with the exact same publisher was originally launched back in 2013.

Zozimus supposes a variation on the old adage about New York "so good we launched it twice" will suffice on this occasion.

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It cannot be very pleasant for millionaire businessman Declan Ganley to see his Libertas Institute sinking into a black hole as mysteriously dark and deep as a Galway bog.

The company's "accumulated net deficit", losses in other words, now stand at a whopping €3,784,282 according to figures filed last week.

The telecoms millionaire who lives at Moyne Park, near Tuam, Co Galway and his brother Sean, of Glenamaddy, Co Mayo are directors of the Libertas Institute whose aims are "lobbying and influencing public opinion into the future".

That auld lobbying seems to be a costly business.

According to documents, the company "did not carry out any activities during the year" (2015) but still managed to lose another €173,937.

It hasn't been a great couple of weeks for the busy lobbyist and his Rivada Group, which along with its partner Spectrum Frontier was recently excluded from a contract to build and operate a high-profile mobile coverage network on behalf of the Mexican state. It was a contract believed to be worth about €7bn.

The bid was excluded because the authorities said it did not meet the financial conditions set down in the tender process. He's since filed legal papers to overturn the decision.

According to the financials filed in Dublin last week, directors' loans to the Libertas Institute stand at €2.3m and Declan Ganley has provided loans to the company himself... at an interest rate of 11pc.

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Zozimus was cycling sedately up Merrion Street for an early pint and a few ballads in O'Donoghue's when he nearly fell off his bicycle at the sight of a procession of bejewelled power women in all their finery making their way into Patrick Guilbaud's restaurant at lunchtime on Thursday.

Stopping to inquire what was going on from one of those chappies in the funny hats, he learned that what was once the playground of Plutocrats - remember when Johnny's Maybach used to sit outside for hours on a Friday afternoon awaiting the return of the Ronan - has now become the preserve of Mna na hEireann.

Apparently Ireland's only two-star Michelin restaurant was re-opening after a major refurbishment.

Our Lady President Sabina Higgins led the throng in protocol terms, but Fionnuala Kenny and Mary McAleese were among the guests, as were Lucinda Creighton, late of Renua, the glamorous designer Louise Kennedy and, fresh from squashing the children out in RTE, Dee Forbes was downing a bracing glass of champagne.

We're told there was more gold than Donald Trump's living room - in the restaurant that is, not on the patrons. Well done to the wimmin.

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Our friends in the Irish Times appear to have enjoyed taking a wrecking ball to small independent publisher Liberties Press.

Of course Sean O'Keeffe, the principal of Liberties, regrets that some staff have not been paid wages and a number of authors are overdue royalties.

But he hasn't gone away you know, and despite sniping from some of his bigger competitors intends to trade out of his troubles and eventually pay what is owed.

Along the way reference has also been made to State funding of Irish publishers - but there is a certain fudge about who actually gets what.

According to the Arts Council's own figures, it provided €64,000 to Liberties Press between 2008 and 2016 - including a grant for the publication of New And Collected Poetry by our own dear President, Michael D.

Contrast this funding with The Gallery Press, run by Peter Fallon, which received €1,497,000 during the same period to publish poetry.

Now we're all for sex and poetry (not that there's much sex in poetry), but should the hoi polloi be footing the bill for books that very few people will ever see, let alone read?

Lilliput Press, whose directors include Kathy Gilfinnan (wife of former U2 manager Paul McGuinness) and Vivienne Guinness got a sizeable €649,000 during the same period, and the list goes on and on.

Of course publishing is a tough business - which begs the question of why Liberties Press got such a roasting from the high-minded literati, who surely can find better targets.

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It appears to be beer curtains for the worst political idea since Brendan Daly tried to introduce to Rod Licence to the Irish riverbank.

Who remembers either now, and is Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy about to face the same fate?

It seems the Fine Gael backbenchers called on their allies in the Anti-Austerity Alliance to put the kybosh on the latest mad idea from the Nanny State and Schoolmarm Marcella. They didn't even have to call on their silent partners in Fianna Fail, who were waiting in the wings.

It's just as well really, because if we ended up with beer curtains in the local Spar, Centra, Gala and corner shop it would have ended up as the defining image of this bumbling Government.

Children it seems can look at porn on the internet at any time of the day, they can play ultra-violent computer games and see Conor McGregor and his ilk beating the living daylights out of each other.

If they stay up late they'll be encouraged to gamble their pocket money on any number of online casinos. But they must avert their eyes at the sight of a bottle of beer.

Its 40 years ago since Zozimus wandered up to Norway to sing a few ballads - and saw his beloved drink corralled behind iron grilles. In the intervening years they realised that this just doesn't work.

Marcella and the Health Taliban want to go back to the dark past instead of trying to normalise alcohol. Why don't they look at France, Spain and Italy where you can buy a beer almost anywhere and it's regarded as normal behaviour?

We need more liberal alcohol laws, not more restrictive ones.

Apart from which the small corner shop already has enough bloody regulations to contend with without introducing comical beer curtains.

Sunday Independent

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