irish independent

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Denis O’Brien but were too busy being sued to ask.

Welcome comrades, to the glorious resistance! If you’re just tuning in and missed my last post about Denis O’Brien’s ongoing assault on Irish democracy…


Ireland’s richest man has apparently gone crazy and is suing or threatening to sue everyone who publicly mentions his shady business practices, including, at the time of writing, Waterford Whispers News, and members of the Irish parliament. Not that you’d read about this in almost any Irish newspaper because he owns most of them.


So I have taken the decision to make Unshaved Mouse the Huffington Post of Denis O’Brien news, a place where anything you would ever want to know about this…person, is just a click away. This will be updated as needs be, and feel free to link to stuff I’ve missed in the comments.

So, let’s start with the obvious. His Wikipedia page, which gives an excellent overview of the man.


Their reposting of the Waterford Whispers article that got WWN sued.

Which then got Broadsheet sued.

An excellent guide to all the people Denis O’Brien is suing, and God knows we need the help.

From the Irish Times (which, interestingly, Denis O’Brien does not own).

‘Misplaced’ IBRC minutes confirm Siteserv writedown was €119 million

“Denis O’Brien lawyers demand removal of article”

“Denis O’Brien legal challenge a ‘threat to democracy’”

Some practical advice.


What needs to change.

From The

In which the Dáil hears claims about Denis O’Brien’s dealings with disgraced bank Anglo Irish.

In which a committee ruled that these claims were NOT an abuse of parliamentary privilege.

In which Denis O’Brien sues the entire parliament…

…and the committee that made that ruling.

Julien Mercille’s excellent overview of how the Irish media and political system have been complicit in granting Denis O’Brien such a dangerous amount of power and influence over this nation.

Fair is fair, I’ll let the man himself justify his actions.


And this from the Daily Beast, an excellent overview of all his shady motherfuckery:

“Why is the Irish government scared of billionaire Denis O’Brien?”

And this is all getting very depressing so, here’s every Denis O’Brien related post from the Waterford Whispers that hasn’t been taken down yet:

Government to discuss what to give Denis O’Brien this time

Denis O’Brien to build moat around evil lair after recent publicity.

“Denis O’Brien renews Illuminati membership.”

Maltese Tax Exile Briefs Government On What To Say Next

“Nation: “We’ve Never Experienced An Assault On Democracy Of This Level””

Possibly the most sarcastic apology in the history of the world.

Denis O’Brien to sue everyone (I don’t get it, that’s supposed to be satire?)

Only the start folks, check back in for more updates and by all means, contribute you own.

Mouse out.

One letter away from “Penis”…

Waterford Whispers News is Ireland’s answer to The Onion, a parody news website that frequently produces satire that is often as brilliant and biting as it is poorly proof-read.

Denis O’Brien is Ireland’s answer to Rupert Murdoch. He is the wealthiest man in Ireland (or whatever tax shelter he currently rests his head). He is the owner of Communicorp which owns a total of fifty one radio stations across Europe and the Middle East, and basically every Irish radio station not run by the State. He has also substantial interests in energy and telecommunications. In 1995, he was awarded the Irish GSM mobile phone licence, as a result of his corrupt payments to now disgraced energy and communications minister Michael Lowry. He also controls Independent News and Media, an Irish media conglomerate that owns newspapers across 22 countries and owns many Irish newspapers including the Irish Independent (oh why am I not surprised?). He has used this position to quash reporting of his financial affairs in the Irish media, in one case even forcing the Sunday Independent to stop mid-press to remove a single sentence that remove a single sentence identifying him as the controlling shareholder of INM.* He has also threatened to sue media outlets who reported on remarks made in Dáil Éireann (the Irish parliament) regarding his dealings with disgraced bank Anglo Irish which were made under Dáil privilege.
So why am I even writing about him? He’s a filthy rich asshat who looks like his mother cuts his hair. World’s full of them. One even looks more and more likely to become president of the United States with every passing day.
Okay America. Stop. It's not funny anymore.

Okay America. Stop. It was funny in the beginning, but you’re taking this too far.

Well because WWN published a satirical article entitled “Denis O’Brien Receives 20 Year Jail Sentence For Mobile Phone Licence Bribe in Parallel Universe”. O’Brien’s lawyers responded thought this was so hi-larious that they threatened WWN with legal action, forcing the site to remove the post.

Clearly, this can only mean one thing.

Denis O’Brien has won. That article, the last feeble gasp of defiance against his stranglehold on the Irish media has been quashed. That article shall never be seen by anyone again, and Denis O’Brien can rest easy knowing that he has triumphed totally and utterly and oh look here’s the entire thing courtesy of Imgur…

Oh well. I’m sure that was just a once off. A glitch it the system. Surely that article will never again resurface on the internet oh lord amercy there it is again…


Recant, Retract, Remove: My open letter to the Irish Independent (and what happened next)

So, oddly enough, this blog devoted to reviews of Disney movies had its busiest day ever when I decided to talk about something entirely unrelated to reviews of Disney movies.

Man, that was a wasted year.

Man, that was a wasted year.

If you’re just tuning in, last week I posted on the Irish Independent’s  sudden, unplanned trip to cray-cray town and a lot of you have asked to be kept abreast if anything came of it. Well, here we go.

I mentioned before that I’d written a formal letter of “What the hell bra?” to the Indo complaining about this article and earlier this week I got a phonecall from XXXXX in the paper saying that they’d read my letter and they’d checked with the journalist who wrote it and that he confirmed that the scientists he’d interviewed had made the claims printed in the article. I could see right off the bat that we’d gotten our wires crossed. I explained that my problem wasn’t that I doubted that the scientists had actually said those things, but that the things they said were…how shall I put this? A clenched fist of bollocks. We then had this exchange. It may not be word for word but it’s a faithful gist:

“Well, that’s your opinion. But these are some very serious scientists.”

“They’re cranks.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because you can’t use radio waves to create energised water that makes giant animals.”

“How do you know?”

How do I know. Well that’s the question, isn’t it? It’s a bit of a stumper. It’s like being asked, “How do you know elephants can’t get heat-vision from eating lemons?” Technically, I suppose, I don’t know they can’t. But there is such a thing as an educated guess. Well anyway, XXXXXX very kindly offered to let me publish a letter in the paper explaining my concerns with the article. This is what I sent them:


Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts on the article “Wave Goodbye to Global Warming, GM and pesticides” by Tom Prendeville, which appeared on on 25 August. When I first read this article I was so flabbergasted that I ended up writing a critique of it online (entitled “Question: Has Ireland’s biggest national newspaper lost its goddamn mind?”) and within hours I was inundated with messages from people who were all wondering the same thing: “How did the Independent let this thing get published?”

The article, written in the best “breathless press release” style claims that Irish scientists have perfected a new technology, a device the size of a biscuit tin that converts 24 volts of electricity into a radio wave that can then be used to transform water into “Vi-Aqua” which is then used to treat vegetables. Then come the following claims (and I swear I am not making any of this up): Treated vegetables become 30% larger and are resistant to disease, rendering pesticides and GM foods obsolete. It converts excess CO2 into plant matter, thereby solving global warming. It makes “water wetter” (really), thereby reducing the amount of water actually needed. And in, a final display of not knowing when to quit, the author states that animals fed the energised water “turn into giants”. We can only assume that Mr Prendeville ran out of space before he was able to recount how Vi-Aqua fed a crowd of five thousand and then died on the cross for our sins.

Now this is of course flim flam, and obviously transparent flim flam*. The Independent may say “We published the article in good faith. We’re not scientists.” But you shouldn’t need to be. There is nothing here that should be able to fool even a moderately educated layman. If “making water wetter” didn’t tip you off, “giant freakin’ farm animals” should have done the trick. The science here wouldn’t pass muster on Doctor Who**. 

But even aside from this, it’s frighteningly obvious that nobody checked this before it went to print. The basic facts stated in the article don’t stand up to even the mildest investigation. Warrenstown, the facility where these miraculous experiments supposedly took place, has been closed since 2009. That took all of three minutes with a search engine to find out. I should point out something at this point: I am not a journalist. I am a guy who writes reviews of Disney movies on the internet. When you cannot match the story-proofing and journalistic rigour of a guy on the internet who writes reviews of Disney movies, that is a bad day for you.

So why am I so upset about this? If the article is as ludicrous as I make it sound then surely no one will believe it? Well firstly, if you think that, then I have an internet to introduce you to and secondly yes, they absolutely do believe it and are sharing it because source matters more than content. I believe the Holocaust occurred and man walked on the moon. Why? Because I was there? Because these events were everyday, mundane and believable on their face? No. Because sources I trust, reputable historians and news sources, tell me that it was so. 

Over the last few days I have watched this story metastasize and spread across the internet and I can tell you now with some authority that you have done the following;

1) You have opened up yourselves, the University of Limerick and the nation as a whole to ridicule and scorn, and have turned Irish scientific research and Irish scientists who do real, vital work in their fields into laughing stocks.

2) You have helped perpetuate the myth that there is some magical cure-all to the issue of global warming, the most pressing concern facing humanity in the modern age.

3) You have allowed yourselves to act as salesmen for a product whose scientific efficacy I will call (in deference to the delicate constitutions of this paper’s legal department) “a bit iffy”.

4) You have done serious and lasting damage to your own reputation as a trustworthy news source and this is by far the worst of all.

In the modern era, with the internet drowning us non-stop in a sea of never ending half truth, cons and sheer bullshit we need, more than ever, legitimate, trustworthy news sources. If I see “Asteroid Headed For Earth” on I won’t give it a second glance. If I see “Asteroid Headed for Earth” on the front page of The Times I’m running for my wife and daughter to hug them goodbye. We need the grownups. We need to know who we can trust, and who we cannot.

The Irish Independent has incredibly, spectacularly failed that test. With regard to this article there are now only three things you can do: 

Recant. Retract. Remove.

Mise le meas,

Neil Sharpson


So I sent this off to XXXX and got a response asking me to edit it down to less than five hundreds words.  I did, cutting a few “flim-flams” here and there and sent it back in. And then I got this response. I think the following email chain speaks for itself.


Dear Mr Pearson,


Thank you for your letter.


If you wish to write a letter challenging the merit of the piece, subject to legal and editorial constraints, we would welcome that.


However, this letter cannot be published due to legal reasons.


We are more than happy to publish a letter that challenges the content of the article, not the reputations of the scientists involved.


Kind Regards,





Was this sent to me in error? I only ask because you seem to have gotten my surname wrong.
Neil Sharpson




Apologies for that Neil – it was intended for you, but I got the surname wrong,






You’re kind of terrible at this.


So, there you have it. Nothing really left to say except that my article which mentions many concrete inaccuracies while not naming the scientists involved by name does not challenge the contents of the article and endangers the reputations of the scientists involved. My bad. Gonna try and take this up with the Press Ombudsman and see if I can get a sympathetic ear.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

All the best


PS: I think I may have inadvertantly given the Independent a new slogan.


* Yes, I say “flim flam”. Yes, I AM a nineteenth century cotton baron, as a matter of fact.

** I love Doctor Who. But this is a show where DNA can be passed along by lightning strikes.


The third week of voting for the Blog Awards Ireland 2013 has now begun. If you have a minute, please click on the link below and cast your vote for “Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #8a: Song of the South. Thanks.

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