“And this is a quote from John McGuinness, this quote from Ed Honohan and a quote from myself: “That is the moment you move from collusion to corruption.”

Brian J Reilly

Brian Reilly spoke passionately with Colm O’Brien about the injustices surrounding homelessness in Ireland during his recent appearance on The Coffee at Eleven Show

“And I’m going to quote two men. And they don’t mind because they’ve come on the record themselves. Ed Honohan said to me in a conversation when I said, “How could vulture funds… We’ve spent five years trying to bring in legislation.” I have a bill here. You can see that. That’s the Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgage bill. Years of work went into that, drafted by Ed and others for politicians promoted by John McGuinness and then betrayed by Micheál Martin and a small cohort in Fianna Fáil who blocked it. And when you look at that, and then you have the Court of Appeal upholds a case where somebody challenged a vulture fund. So the vulture fund had a problem; took it to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal upheld the litigant’s case. So the vulture funds now had a problem. Within a matter of weeks, legislation was changed to facilitate the vulture fund. So that’s when you move. And this is a quote from John McGuinness, this quote from Ed Honohan and a quote from myself: “That is the moment you move from collusion to corruption.”

He went on to quote Martin Niemöller:

“First, they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist”. And it says, “Then they came for the trade unionists. I didn’t speak out again because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews. I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. And then they came from me and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Watch the video or read the transcript below…

Yours Truly: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. You are more than welcome to this, another episode of The Coffee at Eleven Show, brought to you by WIG-WAM and supported in season four here by the Limerick Post newspaper, keeping Limerick posted, #LimerickAndProud. Delighted to have with us here today our very special guest and a new friend of mine but a man that I’m intrigued by. And his name is Brian J Reilly. Brian, say hello, cheers us with your mug, and I will introduce you then.

Brian Reilly: Hello. Good morning. Good morning everybody.

Anyway, I’m going off to do this George Burns thing in Scotland and speak on behalf of the lassies. We’re a little bit nervous about it so I was bringing my guitar with me and I had it in mind to sing Ride On as the tail end of my speech, but I got a bit of great advice out in Howth. Irene and I were out for a meal in Howth, and this fellow came over and he said, “I believe you’re speaking on behalf of the lassies in Scotland,” he said, “Brian, if you’re doing anything like that, all you need to focus on is your opening remark, be sure what you’re going to do, have an anecdotal story or joke in the middle and then know where you want to finish.” So I want to finish if we can today Colm on a positive note, which is my disposition throughout and looking forward, but I think there are some serious things going on as well.

So the reason I mentioned all that is… I mentioned there Ed Honohan. Yesterday I had a conversation with John McGuinness who is the chairman of the Finance Committee. So I would have started a journey, ironically initiated by Irene. So we’re sitting like everybody else when the crash came here and you had Lucinda Creighton and Richard Bruton straight out of the traps and they’re on the television saying, “Well, people who are in debt need to deal with the banks on a case by case basis.” I remember nearly, and I’m not aggressive, I remember nearly taking off my slipper and throwing it at the television saying, “What a… f**ckers. I mean, they’re throwing people to the wolves here.” And it just seemed wrong. And I remember saying, “Somebody should, somebody should, somebody should,” All this stuff. So Irene, of course, casually looks up and she said, “You know, Brian,” she said, “you kept saying that,” she said, “Did it ever dawn on you that the somebody might be you? Don’t keep saying somebody should do something about this or thing.”

So with that in mind, she read about the Ballyhea Says No protest in Cork. And this was where Diarmuid O’Flynn, a journalist, had organized his family and a small group to walk from one end of Ballyhea to the other which takes about 10 minutes, it’s so small. But they did it every week. And we went down and eventually it gathered momentum. I met some wonderful people when I went there and that inspired me to set up Right2Homes. And I remember getting into a bit of controversy with that as well because this group of people started attacking, attacking me, that I didn’t even know. Now one or two of them have become friends since, and they were… some of these guys were involved in the Apollo House thing. Do you remember where they took over Apollo House and all that… But anyway, they were having a good pop at me online. And some of my friends were ringing me saying, “Brian, you have to say something here because they’re saying that you’re a Johnny-come-lately jumping on the bandwagon character.”

So I contacted Terry McMahon, who is a tremendous friend now, but Terry was a big character in that, and Glen Hansard and all the others and I said, “Listen guys, just to get the record straight. I set up Right2Homes before there was a right to anything.” And I was only doing it with a view to keeping people in their homes and finding ways to deal with legislation. Because I realized earlier on, you’ve probably heard the term ‘delay litigants’ where people have no money left. They can’t afford big lawyers. And even if they could the lawyers aren’t equipped… Irish solicitors aren’t equipped to challenge the vulture funds in the banks. So I realized that early on and I set about being an advocate for legislation, which was what brought Ed Honohan into my life.

So I’m in the middle of that. I’m trying to get the Right2Homes thing going. I had offered Right2Homes and that label and the website and everything we’d set up… I had offered it to People Before Profit and any of those organizations. I said, “You can have it, I don’t really want it, but I just… I think something needs to be done.” I engaged with Fianna Fáil. I was invited into the Finance Committee. I met John McGuinness then, and I was appalled by the apathy, not of John now, John is a tremendous man, but the sheer disconnect with the Irish politician. So if anybody’s ever watched that on TV, you do a live presentation, you have a panel and you’re sitting in front of the TDs and then you’ve got the chairman, who is John, and his civil servants and you have the public gallery and it’s televised.

So I invited Ed Honohan to come in on a panel of experts. And I think it’s very telling and it relates to Golfgate, so the photograph we’re looking at there. So Ed, when he did his piece, and bear in mind, he’s Master of the High Court. So he has in perfect dramatic silence…He left it silent for a few minutes and then he started reading out names. Now bear in mind, I set Right2Homes up in 2014, this was now 2018. So four years of advocacy and trying to persuade politicians and lobbying and all that stuff had got us to the point where we had a piece of legislation that Fianna Fáil were committed to and had actually asked me to put together a people’s bill, which would help protect and keep people in their homes and help give some defense against the horror of what was going on, where banks were handing these loans over to vulture funds. And the vulture funds were like a black economy here, a horrendous development.

So I’m there… Ed, anyway, sits up Colm and he just starts reading out names. So it was some fantastic moment. And he says, “Colm O’Brien, Brian Reilly, Deirdre McGuinness, Irene Murphy, blah, blah, blah, blah.” He goes on and on. I can’t remember, 30 odd names he reads. And then he looks up and he says, “Does anybody know who those people are?” and of course all the TDs, senators sitting around said, “No.” Ed says. “Well, neither do I, but it’s public record. All of these people have lost their homes. Now, you should know,” and he said, “it’s your responsibility. It’s the legislature that has to deal- grapple with this because what’s happening is wrong.” And when you hear stories like David Hall would throw out, and quite rightly, that if you imagine Croke Park on All-Ireland Hurling Final day pre-COVID, just imagine that everybody in there is in danger of losing their homes and all that flows from that.

So then you could… Going back to my newspaper days and my marketing and all the rest of it, I started getting an artist to produce cartoons. So I would have a cartoon of Micheál Martin sitting on the fence and… Nothing happened beyond. And I came up with this one when Golfgate came out because if you can imagine just how irritating that is. So leaving COVID aside. At that… and the guy sitting in the golf cart there is supposed to be Brian Hayes. So Brian Hayes was in the Department of Finance and… Or in government. And now he’s working for the banks. He’s at Golfgate. So is a judge. So are the bankers and so are the vulture funds and so are the politicians. Now, what the hell are they all doing their cozy together? And these people, don’t forget, are supposed to be protect- they have a social contract with the people. They’re supposed to be in there doing that.

I think when they walk through that gate, my experience five years down there, when they walk through that gate they leave their conscience behind them with a couple of notable exceptions. The rest of them are useless and Fianna Fáil, I think, the sooner they’re wiped off the map in the political world, the better for Ireland and we get the change that we need. So Golfgate was hugely irritating, but the serious note I was going to leave you on today is this one. So I asked Ed, and he doesn’t mind because he has given interviews and he has written articles. Even in his position today, I asked him when the hearsay bill was passed before Christmas. So there’s a group of guys, journalists, doing a… Working on a documentary and I’m helping them with it. And I’m introducing them to various key players, both academics, political, bankers, and so on. And they said, “This word keeps popping up, you know, about collusion.” And I said, “Well, now it’s far more serious than that.”

And I’m going to quote two men. And they don’t mind because they’ve come on the record themselves. Ed Honohan said to me in a conversation when I said, “How could vulture funds… We’ve spent five years trying to bring in legislation.” I have a bill here. You can see that. That’s the Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgage bill. Years of work went into that, drafted by Ed and others for politicians promoted by John McGuinness and then betrayed by Micheál Martin and a small cohort in Fianna Fáil who blocked it. And when you look at that, and then you have the Court of Appeal upholds a case where somebody challenged a vulture fund. So the vulture fund had a problem; took it to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal upheld the litigant’s case. So the vulture funds now had a problem. Within a matter of weeks, legislation was changed to facilitate the vulture fund. So that’s when you move. And this is a quote from John McGuinness, this quote from Ed Honohan and a quote from myself: “That is the moment you move from collusion to corruption.”

So we’ve got a corrupt system now that’s incapable of fixing itself. They have the numbers, they hop to the vested interests. And what you have now is tens of thousands of families thrown to the wolves, literally. Micheál- or Michael Noonan talking… It was very funny when he stood up in the Dáil, saying that “Vultures do us a useful service. They clean up dead carcasses.” But that just gives you some idea, the mindset. And then you’ve got people like Micheál Martin who don’t give a monkey’s about what’s happening to those people. They don’t even count anymore. If your loan has been sold from a bank to a vulture fund, you don’t even come into the statistics anymore. That’s dealt with, done. Anyway, that’s enough of the serious stuff.

Brian, Brian, Brian, thank you for that. Yes, indeed. Éamonn, thanks for leading the bualadh bos there. That was rich in detail and passion, and I just couldn’t interrupt. It would have been wrong of me to get in the way at all to that story so thank you for sharing it. Collusion, that was the moment collusion turned to corruption. Whoa, that’s heavy, that is heavy.

Yes. And it’s real, and it’s right. Colm, to interrupt you, and sorry for this, the dogs in the streets knew Charlie Haughey was bent and so did all his colleagues and they did nothing about it and he escaped. People knew that Bertie Ahern wasn’t running up and down trees. And he only became a figure of ridicule after he lost the trappings of power. And when you look at him now, he’s not what we thought he was. You had all of those characters within Fianna Fáil who worked on the take and who were facilitating all types of corruption. And yet, these people have the balls to stand up and say, “Our record speaks for itself.” Of course it does. Look what they’ve left. Most of the positive things that have happened here… And even to speak on a positive note about developers and so on. The developers didn’t all blow the stuff up their nose. They built the infrastructure that is the IFSC that are all those fantastic buildings that attract the foreign direct investment. Nothing to do with the government or the people who claim credit for that. I mean, if you look at the National Children’s Hospital and all of those things, you just have to look at the mess they make of anything they get near.

Yours Truly: Completely.

And it’s not ineptitude anymore. I’ve spent five years going in and out there. I’ve met every one of them, nearly, some lovely people. They’re very courteous as you know, but they’re spineless and they do nothing. And, what we need is more independent minded people in Dáil Éireann because that’s the only place all of this can change for the better.

Yours Truly: Thanks indeed for that. The bualadh bos started in Geneva there with Christina. Thanks for that. Come here, just…I want to talk about the Midnight Sessions in just a second. Éamonn you might throw that image, Éamonn please, the image for Midnight Sessions, thanks. But just before we go there… Irene, I was just going back to the time you were throwing your slippers. I actually smiled at you taking off your slipper and throwing it at the telly when they were upsetting you. And Irene basically said, “Brian, do you not think it’s… You need to be doing something about this”. And it reminded me of a phrase that I came across years ago. And the phrase is, “They is you”.

Brian Reilly: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Yours Truly: Do you ever find yourself saying, “Do you know what they should do?” Well you need to realize that they is you because they’ll never do it. And if you’re passionate enough about it, you need to get off your armchair and go do something better. And ladies and gentlemen that’s what this man Brian Reilly has done in spades.

Brian Reilly: Can I just read this very quickly, Colm?

Yours Truly: You can, you can of course, yeah.

Brian Reilly: I put it up on… The other day and I sent it, as I have done on numerous occasions, so I sent it to every politician who was in my data pool. And it’s a poem that was written by a guy called Martin Niemöller. And he posted this, believe it or not in Nazi Germany. And he went around… It bugged them, and they never… I don’t think they ever caught him. But he would post these things on pole things around him, and here it was. And it struck me that every politician here should listen to it and people as well should think about this. What he said was…

“First, they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist”. And it says, “Then they came for the trade unionists. I didn’t speak out again because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews. I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. And then they came from me and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Now, what happens in Ireland, I think, and this is the apathy I talked about in the mainstream media who have failed us- the politicians have failed us- specifically in relation to that mountain of distress and debt that arose from that crash in 2010. Don’t forget the banks were bailed out. The government got off the hook. They blamed a few banks and a few politicians. But essentially it’s up to people to get up and do something about it because Irish people are so typical, they shrug their shoulders and what can you do?

You have one or two high profile journalists who did write articles, but the only role an article like Charlie Weston or something…When he got a letter from a vulture fund oh, shock horror. Or it’s like when… If your mother or your father or somebody belonging to you ends up on a hospital trolley, you get all incensed and then you wonder why the politician doesn’t do something and why the newspaper doesn’t publish it. And yet this is all happening right now, right under our nose. These guys are getting away with murder. They’re doing nothing. And they’re still talking about their record speaks for itself. I rest my case.

Yours Truly: And Brian Reilly, it’s been our pleasure having you in The Coffee at Eleven Show, namaste.

Brian Reilly: Can I leave you with one final thought Colm? And it’s a motto for myself and I’ve been doing it all my life. And that is, end every day with a thank you, just in your own head, your own mind, that’s the last thought. And I do that. I have done all my life, probably going back to that hospital thing. And then start every day with a smile and I do do that. Smile to yourself and it sets the tone for the whole day and then meet somebody like Paddy Kelly or yourself. And they extends it all over the place. So happy days. And thank you for having me.

END.

See the full interview here: https://youtu.be/omLsIlP9KDk

Connect with Brian Reilly here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-j-reilly-0a032b23/

Stay safe, stay in touch.

The Coffee at Eleven Show goes out LIVE every Friday at 11am IST here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82661656072
Live audience members welcome for FREE.