O'Conor: 'misunderstood'

PIANIST John O'Conor has defended the expenses he received as director of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, insisting his lavish spending was necessary to raise funds.

O'Conor came under fire when it was revealed he spent thousands of euro entertaining in restaurants and at his home. His activities were examined by the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) earlier this month.

However, O'Conor said in a radio interview yesterday that he was "misunderstood", that his entertaining drew vital donations to the academy and that he was the victim of media "attacks".

"Various people who have been attacked in the press, they have met me and said: 'John, I'm so sorry you're getting this; I got that once'," he said. "In six
months' time people won't remember. But they will remember, oh yeah there was something negative about him… and that's upsetting because I don't think it's negative what I achieved."

He said his family had been hurt by the publicity. "If I am going to try and get money from somebody, you don't bring them back to McDonalds," he continued. "If you are going to impress them you don't bring them out for a burger or something like that."

The former director said he would not apologise for spending thousands of euros on entertaining guests at his home. And he denied the "false presumption" that he used public money to do it, saying it was funded by the academy.