There was something strange about today's Irish Times story on property developer Sean Dunne: it relied entirely on quotes from the New York Times profile of him. As if they feared there was litigious content in it, at least for the Irish media. Now this --
Developer Seán Dunne has clarified remarks attributed to him in the New York Times. The paper quoted him as saying that, if the banking crisis continued, 'I could be considered insolvent'.
But in a statement, Mr Dunne's office said the developer had been misquoted. His office said the quote given to the newspaper was: 'With countries, banks in almost every country and legends of the banking world for over 100 years going bust in the current credit crunch, I would not bet against myself or anybody else being taken out. However, if it does happen, I would like to think that my conservative gearing prior to the credit crunch and the location and quality of my assets present as good a buffer as is possible.'
Mr Dunne's office also said the interview did not take place at 3am in Doheny & Nesbitt's pub in Dublin, but for 12 hours over two days.
His official quote has the clear ring of a written statement, and not something that might have been said over the course of a conversation.
The strange thing is that it's not clear there's anything really wrong with the statement he is now disowning. Banking crises can make solvent people insolvent. That's why they are so bad. The issue appears to be that he, or the New York Times, broke an Irish taboo.