Last week in the Dail, the Independent TD Shane Ross called for a register of judges’ interests in the wake of a court case where the judge was forced to recuse himself at an advanced stage of proceedings after it emerged the judge had a new beneficial interest in the case through the acquisition of shares in a company. Deputy Ross’s proposal was resisted and is unlikely to gain traction despite its obvious attraction in promoting transparency and protecting the public against conflicts of interest. We already have a Register of Interests in the Oireachtas, something highlighted recently by Deputy Michael Lowry’s omission of a property in Wigan in the UK – the Oireachtas register famously omits debts so we can’t see what loans a politician might have, which might be relevant in some cases such as that of Minister for Health James Reilly’s debts.
It would be helpful if there was a Register of Interests for RTE presenter Pat Kenny.
Pat is unlikely to be affected by the appointment yesterday of an interim examiner at the Treasury Holdings company Carrylane Limited, this despite the report in the Sunday Times in June 2012 that Pat had bought a suite at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Wicklow worth “up to €2m”. Carrylane Limited owns the hotel but the ownership of the suites is unlikely to be affected by the examinership. Having said that, the report yesterday paints a downbeat picture of trading at the Ritz Carlton and with occupancy rates of just 40%, if Pat was depending on renting out his suite, he might be nursing some nasty losses.
Pat also cropped up recently in the Nick Webb/Shane Ross book “The Untouchables” – page 137 – as an investor in the “Conduit partnership” – a syndicate of property investors set up by former tax-man Derek Quinlan. It is not totally clear what property the partnership invested in, but fellow RTE star, Gay Byrne is also named in the book as an investor, and we do know that Gay is on record saying he is nursing substantial losses from his investments with Derek Quinlan. It was reported that Gay and Pat invested €1m and €600,000 respectively in the Four Seasons Hotel in Budapest, Hungary but it is not clear if this was with the Conduit partnership, but it is reported that the loans on this property in Hungary have been transferred to NAMA.
And Pat is also reported to be an investor in another Quinlan syndicate, the Lucy Partnership along with the Dunner, Sean Dunne. This partnership is understood to have bought property in the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin city centre.
According to the latest release from RTE which is for 2009 – three years ago – Pat is presently paid €729,604 which some might think is not bad in a media market which is 1/15th of that in the UK. It is not clear what, if any, income is generated by Pat beyond RTE. Pat is RTE’s highest profile presenter with Frontline and Prime Time on TV and his daily radio show. It might be helpful to viewers and listeners if Pat were to provide a register of his interests and any debts – clearly on some economic matters, property, NAMA, developers, wealth tax, property tax, Paddy McKillen, the Dunnes, Derek Quinlan, Pat may face conflicts between his personal dealings and assets and his duty to be impartial. Having said that there is the potential for conflicts of interest, it should be stressted there is no actual evidence of Pat’s dealings and assets and liabilities affecting his performance.
Maybe Prime Time could investigate….