Coincidentally, they were showing the BBC documentary on footballer Paul Merson’s gambling addiction around the same time RTÉ1 was showing a handsome Ross Whitaker movie about famous player and philanthropist Barney Curley.
Claire Byrne Live recently Tyrone GAA star Conn Kilpatrick opened up about his gambling issues; President Higgins addressed the ubiquitous betting ads scandal; there was even talk last week on various radio broadcasts of the government’s intentions to install a gambling regulator, which they had been meaning to do for a long, long time, but still …
You might get the impression that the long campaign to raise awareness of these issues has been quite successful, but not as successful as the efforts of betting companies to arouse ignorance.
Still, there was another story last week that made you wonder if it had all been a waste of time.
It came from Bettors, Aaron Rogan’s new book on the rise of the Paddy Power company, and it concerned the bookmakers who arranged in 2012 with An Post to return 1.75 million euros stolen by the director of the post office of Gorey, Tony O’Reilly, to finance his gambling addiction.
Tony and I wrote the book on it, Tony 10, I was naturally intrigued by this story, which appeared on the front of the Sunday business message and seemed destined to be intensely covered by the media in the days that followed.
But it wasn’t – there were mentions of Gavan Reilly on News-talk and Cormac Ó hEadhra on RTÉ1 Driving time. But otherwise it didn’t seem to make much of an impression on the Irish media’s heavy hitters, which is sort of a scandal in itself.
Here, after all, two large Irish organizations were doing something in secret that would have been far more beneficial to the community as a whole if it had been done openly.
Imagine if the bookmakers had said something like, “We’re refunding the money because we really fucked up here. Indeed, instead of inviting Tony to VIP enclosures, our only engagement with him should have been to refer him for drug treatment.
And imagine if An Post said something like, “Our systems have failed here. We did not understand how damaging gambling addiction can do, and we will educate our staff on these issues, using the money that has been returned to us. “
Wouldn’t that have been nice? In fact, that would have been great.
Yet the deal they made with each other was made in secret, for reasons that at first glance seem counterintuitive.
After all, bookmakers are obsessed with advertising themselves, especially handing out big checks to a lucky accumulator winner, or generally showing how good guys they are.
But there were drawbacks with this 1.75 million euros – mainly the fact that it had been stolen.
Among the downsides, for example, was the fact that being seen returning it could set a kind of precedent for the return of the stolen money.
It’s just a crazy guess, but you can see why they might not be as excited about it as they are handing a big cardboard check to a guy who won $ 25,000 for a 25 cent investment. .
That still leaves one wondering why An Post would facilitate all of this, as it’s not the first large institution to be broken into by an employee.
A clue can be found in the strange turn of events in 2018 when Tony 10 was about to be released, and it was they and not the betting company who asked their lawyers to write to us, demanding to see it, for reasons that could broadly be called “security.”
They worried about the safety of their workers if the book revealed the inner workings of one of their busy branches. As if you had the same cogs after a heist of 1.75 M € as before.
We were convinced that the book would not endanger the workers and we did not show it to them.
The only danger we could see for An Post was that they would be embarrassed again by their own security loopholes, although we were unaware at the time of this secret arrangement with Paddy Power, which in itself could be interpreted as embarrassing. .
There is also the vague chance that Tony could have been given a jail term of less than four years had it been known that the money was being refunded. But that, we’ll never know.
What we do know is that in politics and in the media there are many who claim to understand the gambling problem in Ireland, but in reality they do not understand it.
They can ignore an important story like this because at the end of the day, they still see the game under the fun heading. Yes, even when the Fun stopped a long time ago.
Dylan or Simon? The rough with the smooth
To mark Paul Simon’s 80th birthday, my colleague Tommy Conlon posted a tweet that sent breaths through the cultural ecosystem, the reverberations of which may not be fully absorbed in our time.
“I know it’s not a competition, but when the two great artists give up their work, maybe future generations will say that Simon was taller than Dylan,” he wrote, joining the conductor. -work of Simon. Hearts and bones as part A.
It’s one of those statements that has rarely been made before, and yet once it’s made it begins to make surprising sense.
The astonishing volume of high class material released by Dylan would always tend to favor him in any competition of this kind.
But it was perhaps more the stylistic differences that created this impression that Dylan clearly has to be superior – his voice is as penetrating as Simon’s voice is restrained.
Yet there is a similar magnitude to the arc of the two quarries. They had this genius of reinvention, or just longevity, that took them through a myriad of genres, be it folk or country or Gospel or whatever, while still being completely themselves.
Dylan is credited with the most radical change of direction, when he pushed the culture towards this strong electric racket despised by folk ideologues. But no doubt, with Graceland, Simon took an even more dramatic leap with his take on African music – a take that, again, after a few minutes, sounded like a regular Paul Simon album.
Yet I must say that I was recently shocked to find that for American music, perhaps the best song ever written by either man, Simon had lifted said tune straight from sacred head, painful hurt by JS Bach.
Then again, Liam Clancy would tell you that Dylan shamelessly took a sad old folk song and made it better.
Oh, Tommy Conlon, how sharp the horns of this dilemma are – I can’t make it clear that future generations would be right to favor
Simon… but they wouldn’t be wrong either.
Leo is late to rephrase the evidence of the bleeding
Dominic Cummings clarified that the Johnson government had always intended to abandon the Brexit deal in Northern Ireland, but it was always strange to hear Leo Varadkar warn that the UK “doesn’t necessarily keep its word ”.
Two years ago last week, the same Leo met Boris Johnson near Liverpool and effectively gave him the piece of paper that ‘Boris’ needed to get out of prison, which for the incorrigible blackguard Boris was. the only significant aspect of their meeting – indeed, to any intelligent observer, it was terribly obvious.
Our government made the strategic decision to go with ‘Boris’, believing that the British might do quite well, in fact. It was a disastrous error in judgment.
If you were to activate Johnson again at the end of 2019, it’s a bit rich now to warn the world.