Subscriber OnlyBusinessAny Other Business

Kielys’ ‘temple of opulence’ Ballsbridge apartment put up for sale at €1.75m

Powerscourt and Labour Party conference, Eoghan McCabe and interior design, TG4′s annual report, Stripe’s lobbying in Brussels, Fiona Muldoon’s UK roles and new festival of legal ideas

Dan and Linda Kiely, the husband-and-wife founders of the Cork-based company Voxpro that was sold to Telus International for about €150 million, are selling again.

This time it’s their two-bedroom apartment at Lansdowne Place in Ballsbridge, a swish development on the site of the former Berkeley Court hotel where their neighbours include Rod Stewart, Roy Keane, Stephen Vernon of Green Property and Niall Turley, founder of Car Trawler.

The Kielys bought 5 The Templeton four years ago for €1.5 million, and it’s back on the market now guiding at €1.75 million.

Sherry Fitzgerald’s sales brochure certainly lays it on thick, describing No 5 as “a temple of opulence”, and “an exquisite masterpiece” that “truly embodies the essence of luxury, and sets the benchmark for high-end living”. It “unfolds an intimate narrative of lavish living, whispered through its bespoke elements and intricate finishes”.


The estate agent links to a piece published last April in The Robb Report, an American luxury-lifestyle magazine, in which Roisin Lafferty of Kingston Lafferty explained her design for the apartment. The result, we’re told, is “a sexy mash-up of 1920s glam, 1970s luxe, and a heavy dose of Verner Panton whimsy”.

Lafferty explained that in order to make the space feel truly liveable, she and her design team had to gut the Ballsbridge apartment, reconfiguring the walls and removing doors, leaving behind large porticos. This was one of the biggest challenges, as the building’s renovation rules meant they had to apply for “a new fire certificate in order to get the layout we wanted”. The process took six months.

“No one wanted to accommodate our clients, so we had to really, really push.”

Still it all worked out, and Lafferty said the ‘big reveal’ of the finished home to the Kielys was an event in itself.

“It was a full sensory experience for them. We had Champagne chilling, their favourite scent sprays. We had their favourite playlists playing and gave them a tour. It was just magical.”

Powerscourt, the Labour Party conference, and Ivana Bacik

In one of its last acts under the ownership of Rory Godson, Powerscourt co-sponsored a reception of the Labour Party Irish Society at the British political party’s annual conference in Liverpool on Monday night. The Powerscourt chief wasn’t in attendance himself, no doubt negotiating the final details of his consultancy’s takeover by the New York-based firm Morrow Sodali in a deal said to be worth £50 million (€57.8 million).

As well as Powerscourt, the reception at the Hilton Hotel was sponsored by Jameson, and by Laing O’Rourke, which is rebuilding Everton FC’s stadium in Liverpool, set to be one of the venues used in the UK and Ireland’s co-hosting of the European Championships in 2028.

The most popular sponsor of all with the Labour Party punters may have been Tayto, which laid on bags of potato crisps manufactured both north and south of the Border.

The funniest speech of a raucous evening was delivered by Ivana Bacik, the leader of the Irish Labour Party, who recalled that she voted in the British general election of 1992. It resulted in a shock win for the Conservative Party, since opinion polls had shown that Labour under Neil Kinnock was ahead. Using a somewhat risqué analogy, Bacik said voting for the Tories in 1992 was like self-stimulation – everyone was doing it, but no one would admit to it.

Eoghan McCabe ‘still learning’ about interior design

“I’m uncomfortable always in a poorly designed space,” Eoghan McCabe, Intercom’s chief executive, says on a new biographical website. “It’s a miserable curse that I don’t wish on anyone.”

The tech guru reveals on that he likes to “nerd out on psychology and any type of approach to wellness and spiritual development”, but that apart from work his other avenue for creative expression is “through interior architecture and design”. He loves renovating spaces and buildings, and creating “experiences” that are surprising, delightful, stylish and tasteful. This led to his dedication to create “as many fun spaces as my wealth will afford, for others to enjoy”.

Admitting that he’s “still learning” about interior design, McCabe says he’s five years and 3.5 projects into it, and plans to invest a lot more energy in this passion in the future.

It’s an interest that runs in the family – his sister Niamh McCabe is already an interior designer of note. She has worked for several tech clients, including Pointy and Tito, and designed a mural for Intercom’s offices in San Francisco.

Fiona Muldoon takes up UK financial roles

Having recently stepped off the board of Bank of Ireland, Fiona Muldoon has been appointed an independent non-executive director at Admiral Group, a British listed financial services company with headquarters in Cardiff.

She had been on Bank of Ireland’s board since June 2015, and for the past two years was also a director of its wholly-owned subsidiary, New Ireland Assurance Company, and chaired its audit committee.

She’s joining Admiral’s audit committee, too, and is becoming chair of the risk committee at Beazley plc, which has its headquarters in London, where she’s already a non-exec director.

There’s already plenty of international experience on the chartered accountant’s CV, since Muldoon worked for insurer XL in both London and Bermuda before returning to Ireland to take up a role with the Central Bank of Ireland in 2011. Four years later she was appointed chief executive of FBD, which she left in late 2020 having returned the insurance company to profitability.

What TG4′s annual report reveals

The RTÉ board faced criticism last summer over the performance of its remuneration committee, which met just once in 2018 and 2019, not at all in 2020, and once in 2021. So we were interested to see how TG4 performed by comparison. Not much better last year, it emerges.

According to its recently-published annual report, its remuneration committee did not meet at all in 2022. The station explains: “The tenure of the previous members ended in April 2022 and the new committee was not established until February 2023.”

TG4′s audit and risk committee did meet four times, and no doubt discussed the “control weakness”, which resulted in the activation of an unauthorised cloud-based server. The breach was reported to Minister Catherine Martin’s department and to the gardaí, and the station’s system has been updated to remove the vulnerability.

“TG4 have put measures in place to absorb the additional costs of circa €40,000 incurred as a result of this breach,” the annual report says.

Meanwhile, the Irish-language station is a lot more comfortable than RTÉ at having independent TV producers on its board. Larry Bass of Shinawil had to step off the RTÉ board in 2021 after the renewal of his company’s contract to make Dancing With The Stars was questioned by other board members.

No such problems at TG4, whose annual report reveals that €6 million worth of contracts with which board members had an interest were approved in 2022. The interests were disclosed at board meetings.

“In cases of potential conflict of interest, board members did not receive board documentation on the proposed transactions, nor did they participate in or attend any board discussions relating to the matter,” the annual report says.

Begs the question as to why the RTÉ board could not have taken a similar approach in order to retain the services of Bass?

Stripe’s busy month of lobbying in Brussels

Stripe, the payments platform founded by the Collison brothers from Limerick, has had a busy month in Brussels. In an official filing to the European Commission, Stripe said its representatives met with Anthony Whelan, an Irish barrister on the team of Commission president Ursula von der Leyen; and with a member of the cabinet of Thierry Breton, the commissioner for the internal market.

Its activity pales in comparison to Ibec, whose entry to the EU transparency register shows that it has 53 people involved in lobbying in Brussels, or more than 11 full-time equivalents. The estimated cost of its work there is between €1.5 million and €1.75 million.

Somewhat less busy is Rasmussen Global, a lobbying firm which lists Dara Murphy, a former Fine Gael TD, among its staff with accreditation to European Parliament premises.

Murphy should certainly know his way around. The former Cork North Central TD resigned from the Dáil in December 2019 after it emerged that he had been based primarily in Brussels.

New festival of legal ideas topped with a ‘dollop of craic’

Frank Clarke, the former chief Justice and now president of the Law Reform Commission (LRC), is to speak about the third-party financing of litigation at the launch of a new festival of legal ideas on October 26th.

Clarke was on the Supreme Court in 2017 when it upheld the ban on “champerty”, a law in place since 1634 that stops unrelated third parties from funding court claims in the hope of taking a share of the proceeds of a victory.

The issue was tested by Persona Digital Telephony, which lost out to Denis O’Brien’s Esat Digifone in the competition for the state’s second mobile-phone licence in 1996. It wanted to take financial assistance from a British company in order to sue the State, O’Brien, and former minister Michael Lowry.

In his new role on the LRC, Clarke is preparing a formal report on third-party funding, and will talk about the issue at the launch of the Wild Atlantic Law festival.

“My session will draw on the LRC consultation paper, and will set out the arguments for and against. I believe it is an important area of possible law reform and am looking forward to the issue being addressed,” he says in a press release.

The festival of legal ideas,, to be held next May in Ennistymon, is being run by Naoise Nunn, director of Kilkenomics. He says the goal is “to be both educational and throw in a good dollop of craic and music in the tradition of the west of Ireland”.