Denis O'Brien

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The Real Social Cost of the Rich's Debt Write-Offs

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The vast sums of our money that the state gave to Denis O’Brien are hard to understand. None of us are ever likely to see one million, short of winning the lotto, never mind 336 million, the amount written-off when O’Brien acquired Siteserv Group, Topaz Group and Beacon Private Hospital.

But here is a comparison that helps put the real cost in context. It’s been reported this week that a number of rape crisis centres may have to close because of escalating cash difficulties. These are caused by the loss of €240,000 in core funding. The state funding body Tusla explicitly claimed that the cuts had to happen in order to to make the best use of limited resources.

The three debt write-offs the O’Brien companies got are the equivalent of 1,400 years worth of that core funding. If Catherine Murphy’s Dáil allegation about the preferential interest 1.25% rate he was given are correct then that cost us 30 millions a year, which is around 125 years core funding for every year the loan is not repaid in interest terms alone.

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