Image: El Roto
I would love us to have somebody like that, and yeah, it may be a divisive figure, but somebody who actually can grab this country by the scruff of the neck and say “this is where we’re going” – John Reynolds, Marian Finucane Show, Saturday 23rd March.
What follows is a partial transcript of an interview conducted by Marian Finucane on Saturday 23rd of March with John Reynolds. John Reynolds is a concert promoter and nephew of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds. In the interview, he discusses his views on business, politics, Margaret Thatcher, and David McWilliams. The interview went on to discuss an upcoming promotion of his, a concert by Ennio Morricone. The upcoming Ennio Morricone concert was also discussed on the John Murray Show on Monday 25th March. John Murray is a former media adviser to the Progressive Democrats and former Deputy Government Press Secretary and Head of the Government Information Services.According to a recent report in the Irish Times, ‘accumulated profits at [Finucane’s Montrose Services Ltd] increased by €206,641 from €584,272 to €790,913 in the 12 months to the end of October 31st last.’
You may also be interested in this transcript of an interview concerning Brian O’Driscoll, Hugo Chávez and Rory McIlroy.
MARIAN FINUCANE: You seem to be very philosophical about losing money, apart altogether from making money.
JOHN REYNOLDS: I’m not philosophical at all and in fact I’m just..I’m absolutely not philosophical about it, trust me I have more regrets in relation to things like that than anybody. But I am also aware that there are times where people think that you are.. everything is flying and everything is lucrative and everything is..you know, at the end of the day you take a risk, you take an initiative and you bear the positives and negatives of it. But I’m certainly not philosophical about it, and I actually get, you know, like, after the first Electric Picnic, you know, trust me, it was, em, you know, I was very down for about six months. I take things very personally, and, eh, but, I also believe that you need to, you know, dust yourself down and get on with things rather than kind of wallowing in, in stuff and..at the end of the day, you know, the most lucrative, or, you know, the safest vestibule..or, the safest business venture is the one that doesn’t take place at all. You know? So, I’m certainly not philosophical but I’m..em, you know..I’ve made mistakes, eh, probably made more than many, but I’m also very determined to rectify them and, and, eh, get back on top again.
MARIAN FINUCANE: We hear about people going from rags to riches. Have you gone from riches to rags? Mind you you don’t look raggedy it has to be said.
JOHN REYNOLDS: (Laughs) Thank you for that Marian. Em, no, I haven’t, I haven’t. I wouldn’t say I, like, I’ve still quite a few businesses and still working very hard but I think everybody in, you know, in this tsunami that hit this country and the world economy, em, got badly hit, em, and, you know, I, like everybody else was very much in expansionist mode, em, I was, you know, I tend to work very hard, and, and, eh, you know, most people thought that was never going to end. I, I, you know, I certainly was, I felt was more careful than many but I did, you know, I was ambitious, ahm.. and, eh, you know, once I got one thing up and it was working I wanted to do another thing whereas there’s other people that would say once you’d one thing up and working just mind, you know
MARIAN FINUCANE: Yeah
JOHN REYNOLDS: Mind the pearl.
MARIAN FINUCANE: Stick to it.
JOHN REYNOLDS: Yeah. But..there are certain people who are good at that. I’m kind of impatient, and, eh, I like doing things. So..
MARIAN FINUCANE: Yeah, I gathered you were toying with the notion of politics.
JOHN REYNOLDS: (Laughs) I don’t know if you would call it toying but, em, just going back to the kind of, the festivals and scenarios, that, em, one of the things that I have always kind of, been fascinated by is the, the concept of a tribe.
MARIAN FINUCANE: Mm.
JOHN REYNOLDS: And the Irish people are tribes. Em, and festivals are very much about a tribe. Em, and you know, I’m a big football fan and that’s all about tribes. I kind of, one of the things I really kind of became kind of disenchanted about was just the whole Irish political system. And I’m actually not political, even though my, my uncle was, was, was Taoiseach. I’m actually not at all. I, em, canvassed for him, you know, and my dad did, my brother did and everybody did, but I wouldn’t call our side of the family political at all. We were brought up Fianna Fáil because my dad was Fianna Fáil and..and that, and em, but..but more and more I kind of felt, you know, at the end of the day, we need a kind of, em, a voice, and people were getting more and more frustrated and I was really seeing it at festivals and at gigs, and like, people were talking to me, friends of mine, em, you know, were kind of talking about it as well. And..and..eh, so yeah, there was a group of people and I met on a number of occasions, quite seriously actually, for about six or eight months. About not really to start a political party but just to kind of talk things through and just decide really where, you know, where we felt about it, and it certainly wasn’t in any egotistical way, it was just actually born out of frustration, it was born out of, em, the last general election I didn’t vote, right? Because I actually, I just..I just didn’t, I was like, you know, I don’t know the difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. To me. I actually don’t. Now they’re both the same. And..and..I just think politics, like I just think politics, I think Ireland kind of needs heroes. We have heroes in many areas but we have none in politics. In my -and this is just a personal opinion- like in sporting, you know, like, you know, Brian O’Driscoll. And, you know, Katie Taylor. They’re heroes. And, you know, they actually bring people along and they inspire people, and they inspire people to..you know. In business, you know, Michael O’Leary, Dermot Desmond, Denis O’Brien: they’re heroes, they’re like, you know, they’re playing on a world stage. Em, and I just don’t see that kind of, like, you know, I don’t understand and I’m sure there’s a logical reason why you wouldn’t bring someone like Michael O’Leary and Dermot Desmond in to negotiate with Angela Merkel. I’d say she’d be terrified. Like, you know, I actually don’t understand that. If these guys work on a world stage, you know, why don’t we use their talent, you know. Like, I read in the paper that Michael O’Leary bought 200 aircraft from Boeing for 16 billion. Like, he negotiated that deal, so send him over to Frankfurt, to Germany. I..I just think it, like, that’s just my.. you know?
MARIAN FINUCANE: Yeah.
JOHN REYNOLDS: I just think it needs kind of broader thinking than the obvious kind of, let’s just, you know go the normal route. And that’s just my opinion, like I could be totally wrong, I probably am, but it’s just an opinion.
MARIAN FINUCANE: You had an encounter, well not an encounter. You were working at one stage in Blackpool, when the Conservatives were having, em, their annual get-together. And you were struck by Margaret Thatcher.
JOHN REYNOLDS: Yeah I was. I actually em, I worked for a company called First Leisure in the UK after college and they owned the Winter Gardens which is kind of like the RDS in Dublin if you want to call it, and the Conservative Party conference is on and I was given the job after much vetting by the police over there, em, the job of actually running all the side rooms that she was specifically dealing with.
MARIAN FINUCANE: Right
JOHN REYNOLDS: And eh, it was an extraordinary experience for like a 21 year old. But what I really saw, and you know, everybody has their own opinion of Margaret Thatcher and
MARIAN FINUCANE: Yeah and she wouldn’t be held…she wouldn’t be the most popular figure here shall we say?
JOHN REYNOLDS: No, absolutely not, and you know, I probably am swimming against the tide on this one but I saw her, right? And I actually saw..I saw the Iron Lady that everybody has seen. Em, and I, you know, I met her, like when I say I shook hands with her on one occasion. That, that was it. But..
MARIAN FINUCANE: But you were observing.
JOHN REYNOLDS: I..absolutely. And what I actually saw was, I saw all the elements of her over the five days. I saw her walking into a room full of pinstriped tough, you know, conservative Michael Heseltine types, and all of them swooning. I saw it. I actually saw it. It was.. it was an extraordinary thing to see. I saw her late at night with her husband where she was the wife. You know, Denis’s wife. I saw her with her kid. With her daughter. And she was the mo-..I actually saw it. It was so interesting to actually see. And yet, you know. And I was there, like, whatever time I left at she was still there, whatever time I arrived at it was, she was..
MARIAN FINUCANE: Already there?
JOHN REYNOLDS: Already there. And, like, and some of the speeches that are not broadcast, like some of the, you know, the small meetings, it was extraordinary to see. Like, absolutely an extraordinary thing to see. But I actually saw the whole gambit of her.
MARIAN FINUCANE: Power?
JOHN REYNOLDS: Yeah absolutely. And and, you know, OK she .. You may criticise her, you know, about Northern Ireland and everything else, but when you look back at, you know, the Falklands War and you look at the Miners’ Strike and you look at all these things
MARIAN FINUCANE: Yeah.
JOHN REYNOLDS: And it was probably at a time as well where, you know, it wasn’t kind of, let’s say, fashionable for woman, women, to have that kind of power. Right? I saw it. It was, it was a very.. It certainly struck me and has always struck me and I would always say that, you know, that she would be one of the heroes.
MARIAN FINUCANE: Mmm.
JOHN REYNOLDS: Because I just think she grabbed Britain by the scruff of the neck, whether you liked it or not, and took it in a direction, again, you may not like it or you may not but she took it there..she had, you know, purpose, she had determination, she wanted it, em, and everyone followed her. I look at Ireland and I think.. I would love us to have somebody like that, and yeah, it may be a divisive figure, but somebody who actually can grab this country by the scruff of the neck and say “this is where we’re going”.
MARIAN FINUCANE: Mm.
JOHN REYNOLDS: So yeah, I was, I was massively impressed. Just from observation.
MARIAN FINUCANE: Well you did have these meetings over the eight months and, I mean, the public was aware that there was the possibility of a new party. Did that just fizzle out?
JOHN REYNOLDS: Probably primarily I suppose because of the onset of the, em, of the recession, and the people, well, some of the people who were there, including me, kind of felt we needed to concentrate on our business. We had enough on our plates, we were spinning enough
MARIAN FINUCANE: Mm.
JOHN REYNOLDS: Kind of, were juggling enough things, em, and, it didn’t kind of materialise. Ehm, and, probably primarily for that reason. I’m not saying if the tsunami of the recession hadn’t hit..we were just talking through things. And it certainly wasn’t a..but it was, it was very interesting. I…there was some very bright people that were very interested in actually partaking in it.
MARIAN FINUCANE: Is this the group that involved David McWilliams? Because he was talking to us about it as well.
JOHN REYNOLDS: Yeah well David and I, I would regard David as a friend
MARIAN FINUCANE: Right
JOHN REYNOLDS: And eh, he certainly is someone I..like, I remember I met David, em, in the expresso bar on Mary’s Road one day before the bank guarantee. And we were just having a coffee. And he just took out a piece of paper and he said, you know, his idea, and again, it just seemed like a brilliant idea to me….