Business Irish

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Prof Austin Darragh

MARTIN FITZPATRICK THOUGH Austin Darragh's name will always be linked with the appalling circumstances surrounding the kidnapping of his son-in-law, John O'Grady, the dreadfulaffair masks the fact that Prof Darragh's CV would leave even the most energetic businessman feeling breathless.

He helped set up Leo Laboratories in Ireland in the Fifties; he set up and brought to the New York Stock Exchange his clinical research company, ICP; he helped found the Irish Cancer Society; he has written hundreds of important papers and established a college of aeronautics. Now, in his seventies, he is an adjunct professor in the University of Limerick where he is working on the energy potential of biomass.

On top of all this, he had a part-time career in broadcasting. For years, he was 'The Doctor' on the Gay Byrne radio show. He is also a practising physician.

The business world remembers Austin Darragh best as the head of the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology (ICP), which started in 1980 and had a meteoric rise ending with a market listing in the US in 1984. In the process, he made no secret of his distaste for the Irish banking system, once describing it as "an organised cartel of loan sharks".

In the end it would be the Bank of Ireland that put ICP into receivership in 1990, and Dr Darragh never went into clinical research again.

His name did crop up in recent times as one of the sellers of a controversial site in Carrickmines (land he'd jointly owned since 1978) that got a mention at the Flood tribunal. He told the tribunal that he believed paying money to politicians was "blackmail".

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