A man who wasn’t afraid to tackle chi­canery

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT -

THE most talked about busi­ness news story last week barely rip­pled in the me­dia be­yond a death no­tice and an obit­u­ary. De­tails of James Os­borne’s tragic death were omit­ted to re­spect the pri­vacy of those who loved him.

We have lost a pow­er­ful ad­vo­cate for share­hold­ers in the board­rooms of some of the most suc­cess­ful Ir­ish and in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies. He was an of­fi­cer (of the court) and an Angli­can gen­tle­man con­sis­tently con­fronting chi­canery among ex­ec­u­tives and di­rec­tors.

It is no co­in­ci­dence that he was a close friend and ad­vi­sor to our most suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tional busi­ness­man, Michael O’Leary.

Mr Os­borne – who fa­mously re­signed as chair­man of In­de­pen­dent News and Me­dia – said he was go­ing to a board meet­ing last Thurs­day week and was found dead the next day in a boathouse he owned near Mil­ford, in his beloved Co. Done­gal.

Al­though born in Devon where his fa­ther was a Royal Navy com­man­der, he grew up in Mil­ford. He was a bril­liant stu­dent at Trin­ity Col­lege (where a me­mo­rial ser­vice was held on Fri­day), and his me­te­oric le­gal ca­reer be­gan af­ter grad­u­a­tion.

Within six years of join­ing A&L Good­body he was a part­ner, and voted man­ag­ing part­ner three years later.

He re­tired at 45 and was ap­pointed to the board of Bank of Ire­land and dairy com­pany Golden Vale. He con­tin­ued as a cor­po­rate con­sul­tant.

Ten years ago he sep­a­rated from his wife, Heather, with whom he had a son and a daugh­ter. He also had a daugh­ter with model and news­pa­per colum­nist Pa­tri­cia Devine.

All of them were at a pri­vate cre­ma­tion cer­e­mony last Wed­nes­day and a pub­lic me­mo­rial ser­vice on Fri­day.

He al­ready has one grand­child, and both his son’s part­ner and older daugh­ter are cur­rently ex­pect­ing ba­bies.

A dot­ing fa­ther and grand­fa­ther, he had no fi­nan­cial wor­ries, no health con­cerns and his fam­ily life was con­tented, ac­cord­ing to friends. And that makes his death at 68 all the more sad and puz­zling.

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