Sunday 26 March 2017

How decency was Anthony O’Reilly’s Achilles heel

Paying off your debts is a curiously old-fashioned thing to do. A little like entertaining your staff at your own home

INM AGM
INM AGM
Castlemartin
Castlemartin from the air
Castlemartin house
The O'Reillys
Tony O'Reilly
Waterford Wedgwood AGM

Though there seems to be a healthy amount of schadenfreude around the circumstances in which Tony O'Reilly finds himself, it's fair to say that even his detractors are a little bit taken aback at how far he appears to have fallen.

Before Denis O' Brien, Tony O'Reilly was our colossus astride the world stage. He was a billionaire before such things were commonplace. As the boss of Heinz, he showed the Yanks how to do business - he even invented Kerrygold, and with it the now accepted notion that a country with grass like ours can sell food at a premium. And, of course, the sun never set on his media empire.

And even as things crumbled around him - his media empire gone, his dream of an Irish luxury brand gone, along with hundreds of millions of his own cash, and even his oil exploration seeming to run dry - no one suspected he was actually broke. And the phrase that echoed around last week, among both his friends and his enemies, was: "How did it come to this?"

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