Fab Vinnie, David Lee Roth and Michael O Leary


Back in the early eighties Dave Lee Roth, the spandex wearing ‘wella’ haired front man for 80’s superband Van Halen was being interviewed by Vincent Hanley otherwise known as ‘Fab Vinnie’ for the then hugely popular MT-USA Show on RTE. Vinnie, obviously in awe of the golden haired Roth, couldn’t contain himself and asked him what it was like to be so fabulously wealthy?

With a deft wave of a gold and diamond bejewelled hand, Roth flicked back his hair and looked right at Vinnie with those dreamy eyes and said

‘ You know Vincent, by the time I get to pay my manager, my lawyers, my accountants, my staff, my entertainment bills and the taxman, I’ve just about enough left to buy a small Caribbean island!’

I was reminded of this the other day while watching Michael ‘Arc Angel’ O Leary tell the nation in RTE’s Prime Time debate on Lisbon that we should vote for Lisbon because we are broke, because it is good for business and because he would rather have Europe run Ireland than the ‘Shower of incompetents in Leinster house‘. Michael went on to tell us that he was an important businessman. He employed a thousand people. He paid huge amounts of taxes here in his home country and told the nation that he brought inward investment with his company Ryan Air. Readers should note that it was at that point the memory of Vincent Hanley interviewing Mr Roth nearly a quarter of a century ago popped into my head.

You see, when Michael pays all his taxes etc you can be sure that his take home cheque wont leave him standing at the ATM machine praying to the God of ATM machines to please give him something, anything except that heart sinking message of

‘Sorry you have insufficient funds for this transaction’.

That aside, as long as Mr O Leary pays his fair amount of taxes and covers his costs which I’m sure he does, no matter how much he pays he should not feel that he has any rights or privileges over other tax payers, or that this gives him a right to a bigger say in our democracy than any other citizen of this state, be they taxpayer or welfare recipient.

And there’s where my problem with Europe lies. Deep under my skin I get the creeping feeling that Europe is getting more concerned about markets than people. More concerned about the economic imperative than the  social one. The more I hear ‘We need to be at the heart of Europe winning friends and influencing people‘, I can’t help but wonder if the whole European project amounts to nothing more than a lobbyists paradise? If so why not send a ‘Frank Dunlop’ to Brussels and save all this voting malarkey. Frankly speaking, a word in the right ear from a ‘Frank’ would surely see a jacuzzi in every house in the land. Just imagine it. A Europe with a budget worth billions of euro, covering nearly half a billion people, controlled by a gargantuan political structure where things get done by ‘winning friends and influencing people’ and where the social agenda is being tamed to allow free market conditions to prevail. What’s not to like for  Michael and many like him. It’s a businessman’s paradise!

So every time I hear a well paid business man, politician, economist, banker,  or lawyer tell the nation that they too are sharing the cuts and the pain like everyone else in this seemingly ‘banama’d’ republic, the memory of Mr Roth comes back to me. It rises up when I hear well paid commentators and journalists tell the nation that public sector pay must be cut, education and health cuts must be implemented, that we are all living beyond our means. And it really hits home when one realises that the cuts that the well heeled are taking are more than the average yearly wage of over 80% of the people in this country.

Europe and Ireland. A world of equals? I don’t think so.

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About Ronan Gallagher

Writer and Film-maker living and working in Leitrim in the North West of Ireland. View all posts by Ronan Gallagher

6 responses to “Fab Vinnie, David Lee Roth and Michael O Leary

  • Iarlaith O Gallcobhair

    Love this, again you amaze me with your well researched facts.

  • Keith Nolan

    Nice essay Ronan. I remember Fab Vinnie well, a nice guy and a gentleman.
    Must rush though, it’s nearly 07.00 hrs and I’m on my way to
    Carrick-on-Shannon to vote YES.

  • Mary C. Dolan

    Well said, Ronan! “Banama’d” — I love it!

    I am a born capitalist; I believe in the free market system and in the opportunity for every person to achieve business and personal success (or not) on an ethical basis. I do not believe that the Lisbon Treaty Referendum should be an anti-government vote — that’s not what it’s about.

    But I am voting NO because my trusted intuition has given me warning bells (for the second time around) that the proposals have better than average odds of creating an ever more autocratic, edict-ridden, top-down (rather than bottom up through elected representatives) Big Brother, and that converns me.

  • wheelsofire

    Not long returned from being a Presiding Officer at the Referendum,with a turnout of about 32% where I was, I have no idea how the public voted. There were very few letting on, with two declaring to us they were voting No, and no one announcing a Yes.

    I was surprised that no one brought up the 1801 Act of Union, when England bribed,blackmailed or bullied the Members of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Ireland to vote their own abolition.
    So it was again in this campaign, when the beneficiaries of the status quo include trade union leaders, the (left) Labour Party alongside big business, sold all remaining principles giving away sovereignty to join the new Empire. Back in 1801,the bought were at least true to their class.
    There was huge opposition to the Act of Union, and then only few native Irish had a vote. Not enough to matter, democracy being then only for the well-born.

    I agree with your take on the whole thing; when so much money and effort is being put into ensuring we should do something then something is up.
    The dishonesty of what passes for debate here was so very obvious this time, as in when Motormouth Mullingar Mick tried to shout Ganley and Miriam O’Callaghan both down. He seriously lost it, and the argument.
    Any other country would have had a revolution. Not ours, anymore. Just look how they are trying to pit public service workers against private sector colleagues. This splendidly diverts attention from the real causes of the problem, and better yet, saves the arses of the people who colluded in the creation of the disaster. The same ones who assure us that €204 per week is too much money for the unemployed.That this is unsustainable, and encourages people to live high on the hog rather than accept work.That the minimum wage of €8.65, a rate which has not incrased since 2007, is strangling busines. That we must have our belts tightened.
    They, on the other hand, need to pay themselves ever-increasing salaries lest they go elsewhere.

  • wheelsofire

    Note: I thought that I posted the above last night. Not only was I wrong about that, I was also wrong about the outcome of the referendum.
    I don’t suppose we will get another chance to vote on Lisbon!

  • heartsdesire

    I voted yes. Why? Our elected representatives and their peers have driven this country into the ground financially. In an ideal world Ireland should be able to stand on it’s own two feet, but that would take visionary, independently minded leadership. We simply don’t have that. Without the financial support of Europe… we will be plunged back to the Irish economic climate of the 1980’s. Do we want to be part of Europe? Do we realistically have a choice?

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