Breifne cuts a dash but dodges tough questions
O'Brien sprints from photographer as residents look on but it's not long before he's back on form, says Ronald Quinlan
APART from money, there are two things you really have to hand to Breifne O'Brien: his personal fitness and his impressive tan.
Last Thursday, the self-confessed conman showed off both to the Sunday Independent after emerging briefly from his latest lair in Monkstown Farm in Dublin.
Casually dressed in a windcheater and fashionably faded jeans, O'Brien strolled unnoticed through the local authority estate and streets next to his apartment to stock up on provisions from his local store.
And he probably would have stayed unnoticed had we not showed up to ask him a few awkward questions about the money he took from his most loyal friends during the boom on the pretext of being their trusted financial adviser.
The mere sight of our photographer's lens was enough to see the bold Breifne break into a canter and then a sprint so fast that several passers-by stopped to stare.
"Who's that they're after?" asked one man of nobody in particular.
Despite his high-profile arrest and questioning by the garda fraud squad the previous week, it seemed no one recognised Breifne.
Notwithstanding their ignorance of that fact, the mere fact that the 50-year-old financier was now being pursued up and down the street in front of them fuelled several different theories of the terrible devilment he must have been involved in to attract such attention from the press.
After several minutes of jogging, sprinting and zig-zagging from side to side, he must have realised how ridiculous it all looked, and so decided instead to slow himself down to a purposeful walk.
At this point, the Breifne that the society pages had once adored seemed to take over. Tilting his head ever so slightly, O'Brien was back to his imperious self, peering down the length of his nose to take in the world around him.
Indeed, such was his confident demeanour, he could just as easily have been ensconced in any one of the numerous exotic locations he had once frequented using other people's money as opposed to standing on the fringes of a south Dublin council estate.
Asked if and when he would pay his friends back the money he had taken from them, the Cork-born financier remained tight-lipped as he strode off to let his perma-tanned face catch the last weak rays of the evening sun.