cover art for How Ben Dunne's bad behaviour changed Ireland - with Fintan O'Toole

In The News

How Ben Dunne's bad behaviour changed Ireland - with Fintan O'Toole

Last weekend, millionaire businessman and former Dunnes Stores chief executive Ben Dunne died suddenly in Dubai. He was 74 years of age,

In 1992, Dunne made headlines again when he was arrested in his Florida hotel room for cocaine possession. Shortly afterwards, back in Ireland, Dunne’s siblings moved against him to wrest control of

Dunnes Stores from him. It was this intense family feud that led to journalists exposing Ireland’s deeply entrenched political and financial corruption in the 1980s and 1990s.

Had it not been for Dunne’s cocaine-fuelled psychosis in Florida, would the revelations of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey’s secret financial dealings ever have happened?

On today’s podcast, columnist Fintan O’Toole reflects on Dunne’s eventful life and the extraordinary impact he had on Ireland.

Presented by Sorcha Pollak. Produced by Declan Conlon.

More episodes

View all episodes

  • The latest twist in the RTÉ saga, explained

    It’s been another awful week for the national broadcaster. Last Friday, RTÉ board chairwoman Siún Ní Raghallaigh resigned after her position was undermined by Minister for Media Catherine Martin live on television.RTÉ's board reacted with anger following what is being viewed politically as the forced resignation Ms Ní Raghallaigh, which came amid a deepening row over big exit payouts for departing executives.Today, members of the Public Accounts Committee will meet to finalise a 70-page report on recent revelations around events in RTÉ. And this evening, Ms Martin is due to appear before the Oireachtas media committee to answer questions about her comments on RTÉ's Prime Time.But how did we reach this point and what does it mean for the efforts to fix the stricken broadcaster? Guest: Current Affairs Editor Arthur Beesley.Presented by Sorcha Pollak.Produced by Declan Conlon and Suzanne Brennan.
  • How a small Irish seaside town has opened its doors to those fleeing war

    Two years ago, what would become 105,000 Ukrainians began arriving in Ireland to seek refuge from the Russian invasion of their country.They were dispersed all around the State, including to Bundoran in Donegal, a seaside town and for generations a welcoming holiday destination.How have they adjusted to living so far from their war-torn homes? Sorcha Pollak travelled to Bundoran to talk to the new arrivals and locals about welcomes, integration and long-term plans.Presented by Bernice Harrison.
  • Why Gardaí are still investigating rogue solicitor Michael Lynn

    Renegade solicitor Michael Lynn stole €18 million from the banks at the height of the Celtic Tiger property boom. It took until this week for justice to be served, when Lynn was sentenced to 5½ years in prison.After the sentence was handed down, the prosecution dropped a bombshell – gardaí believe the fraudster may still control some of the stolen money and suspect him of attempting to launder it here in Ireland. An investigation is underway. Colm Keena was in court for the sentencing and he explains Lynn’s crime, how he evaded justice for so long and what will happen now. Presented by Bernice Harrison. Produced by Declan Conlon.
  • Why spy fears have led to the downsizing of the Russian Embassy

    For decades concerns were raised at Government level that the Russian Embassy in Dublin was an espionage hub, with the sheer scale of the Soviet diplomatic mission to the State prompting suspicions over spying.However, the war in Ukraine emboldened the Government to take action. Russian diplomats have been expelled, new visas refused and now the embassy’s staff in Dublin has been reduced from 30 to 15.This follows the refusal to grant Moscow permission to expand the Rathgar embassy on “national security” grounds.Crime and security correspondent Conor Gallagher explains why the Government has at last taken action. Presented by Bernice Harrison. Produced by Suzanne Brennan.
  • Cork drugs bust: Are Irish agents working for Mexico’s deadliest cartel?

    Last week, a consignment of synthetic drugs, thought to be crystal meth worth €32.8 million, were seized in Cork Port. It is believed the shipment, which was destined for the Australian market, was owned by the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s deadliest drugs gang. Gardaí are now investigating whether a number of Irish men based in Cork and Kerry have been acting as agents for the cartel. So far, they have made two arrests. Irish Times Crime and Security editor Conor Lally reports. We also hear from Karol Suarez, a journalist based in Mexican City who explains how the Sinaloa cartel, often associated with the Netflix show Narcos, has become one of the most powerful and dangerous drug-trafficking gangs in the world.Presented by Sorcha Pollak.
  • Why Dublin's Metro is still a decade away - at least

    On Monday, An Bord Pleanála met for its first hearing in 15 years into Dublin’s planned underground rail line. The €9.5 billion MetroLink, as it is now known, has been put on hold numerous times since it was first announced as the Metro West plan in 2005.The proposed underground line would run from north of Swords to Dublin Airport, then on to Ballymun, Glasnevin, O’Connell Street and St Stephen’s Green before terminating at Charlemont Street, with 16 stations in all.Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said he believes the long-awaited MetroLink will be granted planning permission before the end of this year and that construction will be completed by the early 2030s.Many Dubliners are worried about how the construction of this line, particularly close to the city centre, will disrupt their homes and livelihoods.However, as one of the only major cities in Europe without an underground transport system, Metrolink could be transformative for Dublin city and its residents in the long term, says Irish Times Dublin editor Olivia Kelly, who joins today’s episode of In the News.Presented by Sorcha Pollak. Produced by Declan Conlon.
  • Revealed: how landlord Marc Godart ruthlessly runs his business

    Previously on In the News, Irish Times Europe correspondent Naomi O’Leary explained how Dublin-based landlord Marc Godart deployed CCTV to monitor tenants in their homes, faced accusations of unlawful eviction and failed to pay compensation to former tenants as ordered by the Residential Tenancies Board.On today’s episode Naomi shares a new cache of audio files and documents that show how Luxembourger Godart treats his employees, including summary dismissal and fines for minor infractions.The documents also reveal attempts to establish new companies under the identities of people unconnected with Godart and his family to avoid public scrutiny of his property operations, and the offering of payment to workers to find people willing to allow the use of their identity to set up an Airbnb account.Also on the podcast: Those working for Godart are hired as independent contractors, and their contracts stipulate that Luxembourg law applies to their relationship with Godart’s companies.But as Claire Bruton, a barrister specialising in employment law, explains, the law is not on Godart’s side when it comes to these arrangements.Presented by Bernice Harrison. Produced by Declan Conlon.
  • New leads in mystery of missing Icelandic tourist

    Jon Jonsson, 41, vanished in Dublin in 2019 while in Ireland to play poker. A father of four and a taxi driver in his native Iceland, he was travelling with his fiance.For some reason he left his hotel, The Bonnington, on a bright February afternoon; CCTV cameras capture him walking along the busy road. After the second sighting near the hotel, he vanishes. He didn’t know the area and had no friends in Ireland.To date, no trace of Jonsson has been found. Then this week gardaí, acting on information contained in anonymous letters, searched a park in nearby Santry. Crime and security editor Conor Lally explains this unusual missing persons case. Presented by Bernice Harrison. Produced by John Casey.
  • What is it like to visit the most dangerous country in the world?

    Nearly two and half years since passed since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in after the US withdrew the last of its troops from the country. Since then, the country has grappled with a humanitarian crisis which has forced millions of Afghans abroad.Women’s rights and freedoms have been severely restricted since the Taliban takeover in 2021 and girls in Afghanistan can no longer attend school beyond sixth grade.Meanwhile, Taliban authorities have reportedly increased the arbitrary detention of journalists, human rights defenders and civil society activists while there have been repeated reports of extrajudicial killings and torture and brutal treatment.European countries, including Ireland, strongly advise against travel to the impoverished Asian country where the Islamic State terror group continues to launch lethal attacks against Shia minorities and the Taliban.However, a small number of tour operators are now offering trips to Afghanistan for adventurous travellers seeking a trip outside the norm. And while foreign visitors are strongly advised by their governments not to visit the country, some tour operators say bringing tourists to the country is beneficial for Afghan communities.Journalist Hannah McCarthy discusses the small number of risk-taking tourists who are ignoring the travel advice and choosing to the visit the most dangerous country in the world.Presented by Sorcha Pollak. Produced by Suzanne Brennan.