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During yesterday’s radio coverage of the news I heard Michael O’Learys voice during a press conference in which he announced that Ryan Aer were with-drawing three plane’s from Dublin airport due to the governments €10  travel tax and the Dublin Airport Authorities decision to raise landing charges at the same time.Now what ever you think of the idea that it makes sence to raise charges during the worst economic down turn in nearly a century, it got me thinking, why does Micheal O’Leary polarise opinion so much in Ireland.What is it that makes him a person like Roy Keane that people love or hate.

O’Leary and Keane have over the years caused many an argument and the polarisation of opinion is very stark.When O’Leary deals with the government or the DAA and shouts from the roof tops that he thinks that their decisions make no sence and that they couldn’t manage a pissup in a brewery he is largely speaking from a position of knowledge.This is because Ryan Aer have survived despite  both organisations attempting to shut Ryan Aer down on a number of occasion when it started up twenty odd years ago.The fact the Ryan Aer would not join the cosy cartel operated in the aviation industry in Ireland and that Ryan Aer completely bucked the system in an attempt to survive and become the second largest airline in the world.

Is that it I ask myself?Is that the reason people don’t like O’Leary because he has been so successful and so arrogant rubbing peoples nose’s in it.Keane has the same effect on the Irish public you either love him or hate him there does not seem to be any wriggle room, no in between position and it’s no coincidence that Keane is another who does not conform to our image of an Irish stereotypical person.The words “does not suffer fools gladly” come to mind for both individuals.

As a striving business person I think we are short on Irish success stories and we are certainly short on companies that are as successful as Ryan Aer.Only U2 would have reached the heights of success that Ryan Aer have managed, they both have gotten to the top of their industry on a global scale.No other company comes to mind that you can say the about.Keane did the same as a midfield general for Man Utd. but why are not both universally loved within this country?

Is it their inability to keep their mouths shut when faced with mediocrity, an unwillingness to accept the status quo?Well if we take the Michael O’Leary situation when he arrived into the aviation industry in Ireland the Dublin/London route was the most expensive air route in the world per mile flown.That is certainly not the case now.In Keanes case the FAI was run in such a hap-hasard manner that the players would travel economy class and the pencil pushers would fly first class on the way to a soccer international!That does not happen anymore.

So what is about both individuals that makes them so infuriating to so many people?It is an interesting question and my belief is that their outspokenness is the key to the answer.A number of years ago I heard a returned Irish man speak about what was the difference between living in America and Ireland and he said that in America people look up at the big house on the hill and say “some day that will be me” in Ireland a lot of people would look at the big house on the hill and say ” some day I will get that bollocks”.

Begrudgery is alive and well and living among us.A large number of the population would prefer it if we did not get above ourselves.They would prefer if we just were happy with our lot in life.Why would you want to do that?Sure aren’t  you grand the way you are.Why would you further your education, why would you apply for that job as manager aren’t grand where you are, think of the extra pressure you will be under and so on…

Thankfully due to the influence of a few world-class individuals we are beginning to see that we need not hide our talents and we have every right to succeed to better ourselves.Riverdance, the Irish rugby team,the Munster rugby team and the proliferation of the big multinational companies that have now thought Irish workers it is okay to move up the management ladder within these organisations and that to achieve much better than getting by.

Getting back to O’Leary and his ability to annoy.The government introduced a €10 travel tax for anybody entering the country in one of its many budgets.It is along with the rise in Vat to 21.5% one of the few mistakes the Minister Brian Lenihan has made.O’Leary told them so within hours of it being introduced.Since then the Dublin Airport Authority increased their landing charges, O’Leary told them that those decisions would impact on the amount of people flying into the country.He also told them that he would with draw some of his planes from Dublin and that would cost the tourism economy big money.What happened yeaterday?He followed through on his promise and the numbers flying into Dublin this year will be down two million people, the cost to the exchequer will run into millions of euro.In a time when we as a country can least afford it.Other countries are doing to exact opposite to this policy they have slashed their charges if not eliminated them all together.Why, Ryan Aer has opened up the airways of europe to all economic groups, young, old, rich and poor.The middle and lower class income earners are the people most effected by the recession so they are now less likely to fly, but it is the charges which can add €40 to the cost of a flight which is doing the real damage.Other countries understand this but the mandarins in charge of this country can not see that, or can they?Is it because it is O’Leary is pointing it out to them that they are turning their faces against such simple logic,because they can not lose face and accept he is right?

My opinion for what it’s worth is it is exactly that, who cares about the loss of jobs in the tourism sector.Let’s face it the enocomics of the situation would be understood by a twelve year old.Nero fiddled while Rome burned.