Michael O’Regan: A captured journalist?

I wrote recently that Michael O’Regan, parliamentary correspondent for the Irish Times, may be a captured journalist.

Because O’Regan spends most of his working life interacting with politicians and government officials he is unlikely to even consider the suggestion that he may be a captured journalist.

A recent contribution by O’Regan adds weight to the suggestion that he is indeed a captured journalist.

During a discussion (Today with Pat Kenny; part 3) on the naming of alleged Ansbacher names under Dail privilege by Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald O’Regan said:

I have to say this, when I saw the list of politicians allegedly having Ansbacher accounts I had to laugh. The whole idea that some of the people on that list would have had Ansbacher accounts. Now, that’s just a personal view of the people involved.

This is a deeply disturbing attitude for any journalist to hold. An absolute refusal to even contemplate the possibility that certain people of power and influence may have broken the law.

It is reasonable to assume that before the Ansbacher nest of criminality was exposed Mr. O’Regan would have been outraged at the suggestion that the Taoiseach of the country held such an illegal account.

It is reasonable to assume that this journalist would have laughed if handed the Ansbacher list containing the names of hundreds of some of the most powerful, influential and respected names in politics and business who held illegal Ansbacher accounts.

Here’s another uninformed comment from Mr. O’Regan.

And the other point that you made Pat (Kenny) was, Richard Bruton said it was investigated by his government. It was also apparently investigated by a previous government, so this is not a file that was lying around the place and nobody dealing with it.

Here are the facts:

For two years the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton failed to act on a file given to him by civil servant Gerard Ryan. The file contained very serious allegations of tax evasion by Ansbacher account holders.

It was only after Gerard Ryan contacted the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to highlight his concerns that the Minister handed over the dossier to the Gardai who are now investigating.

So this was a file that was lying around the place with nobody dealing with it until Gerard Ryan forced the Minister to act.

Clearly, O’Regan is either chronically unaware of the details surrounding this latest Ansbacher scandal or he’s a captured journalist who automatically rejects any suggestion of wrongdoing by those he sees as incapable of such behaviour.

For comparison, here’s the contribution during the same discussion by journalist Martina Devlin. Her analysis is informative, questioning and balanced.

What I find interesting is that a privilege given to the Oireachtas by the Constitution is absolute and its been endorsed by the courts. But Dail Eireann itself has limited that privilege with its standing orders. It says that if it’s defamatory you must not say it and she did say something that was defamatory. She needed to be on really solid ground if she was going to do that. I believe she believed that what she said was true. I do believe she felt she was acting in the public interest. However, she wasn’t on firm ground, she tripped up on those standing orders which said if it’s defamatory you shouldn’t say it.

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Michael O’Regan