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Oligarchs on march, says McDowell

Fine Gael and Labour will get what they deserve if they do not unite to challenge the "culture of impunity" fostered by oligarchs, Michael McDowell has said.

The former tánaiste and attorney general said oligarchs were "on the march" in this country and they had "some allies… in high places".

He said certain office holders had been happy to pose for pictures with those "who subjected the Moriarty Tribunal to a sustained campaign of vilification and abuse".

The Leveson inquiry into British media standards had served as a painful lesson to politicians there that "snuggling up to oligarchs doesn’t seem so good the morning after".

Mr McDowell said it was important to have diversity in media ownership and that newspapers should not be viewed as "trophy possessions" for oligarchs.

"Nobody is investing in the print media these days for profit. On the contrary those who are queuing up to buy shares it seems to me... [are] making that investment by considerations of social, political and editorial control and influence."

Mr McDowell was speaking in Dublin last night at the launch of a new book on the history of political corruption in Ireland by academic Elaine Byrne.