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The first two episodes of Sean O'Rourke's new podcast series were released today. Alamy Stock Photo

Donncha O’Callaghan speaks to Seán O’Rourke podcast about losing money in ‘sophisticated fraud’

Insights will feature conversations with many public figures in Irish politics, culture and sport.

VETERAN BROADCASTER SEAN O’Rourke has released a new podcast series with RTÉ.

The series, called Insights, will feature conversations with many public figures in Irish politics, culture and sport about their lives, achievements and regrets. 

Released today, the first two episodes of the series see O’Rourke speak to former rugby player Donncha O’Callaghan and Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill.

“The Insights podcast gives me an opportunity I’ve rarely had in the past, to conduct long-form interviews with interesting people, free from the pressures of time, the daily news agenda, and hitting the next commercial break,” O’Rourke said.

“The format allows for a more relaxed engagement and, I would hope, a really informative and enjoyable experience for the listener. For me, it’s a refreshing change from what I’ve done before, and I’m delighted to be back at the microphone.”

Carroll MacNeill speaks to O’Rourke about her experiences as a female politician, being harassed and her desire to see more women in Government.

O’Rourke asks the former Munster rugby player about his sporting career and the numerous coaches he’s worked with, as well as the upcoming La Rochelle V Leinster match this Saturday.

“I learned my lesson – I would never cheer for a French, English or Welsh team over an Irish one,” O’Callaghan says on the podcast.

“If [Ronan O'Gara] was to get a result of course I’d be delighted for him. I get a giggle that everyone’s really surprised he’s a good coach… why is this a massive surprise?”

He also speaks about losing money after investing in Custom House Capital (CHC). The company purported to be a high-end wealth management business aimed at well-off pension investors.

However, the firm was put into liquidation in October 2011 after it was found that it was “systematically and deliberately” misusing more than €56 million of its clients’ assets and cash. 

Four senior executives of the company were jailed last week for their roles in a “highly organised” and “sophisticated” operation to defraud investors.

“I look at that whole scenario and I look at myself at that time, I’ll be honest with you, I’m more disappointed with myself than anything else,” O’Callaghan says.

“I should have done more work, I should have been more self-aware – of not only the type of business and the type of funds I was putting my money into, but also the character of the people. For me it was a massive lesson, a wakeup call. I personally blame no one bar myself.”

O’Rourke was a long-time RTÉ employee but retired in May 2020.

He was understood to be in talks to return to the station in the following months when it was revealed that he attended the controversial Oireachtas Golf Society dinner held at a hotel in Clifden, Co Galway in August 2020 amid strict Covid-19 restrictions.

RTÉ subsequently confirmed that it would not be proceeding with future projects with O’Rourke, which the journalist said at the time was the “right course” of action. 

Last year, O’Rourke returned to RTÉ to present Two Tribes, a programme which followed the diverging paths taken by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael following the Irish civil war.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent last weekend, when asked to give his thoughts about the possible new host of The Late Late Show, O’Rourke responded: “Do you realise it’s taken me three years to claw my way back?

“If you had the scars on your back that I carry, you’d be careful too.”

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