Michael O'Leary

O’Leary on guest list as Bilderberg meetings resume

Mullingar man and Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary is among those listed as the participants at the secretive Bilderberg Group conference, which took place in Washington, D.C. from June 2 to 5 last.

The annual elite meeting, which draws its participants from a wide range of sectors including politics, business, finance, media, intelligence and academia, took place at an unspecified Washington hotel amid tight security. The conference was postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Every year, the Bilderberg Group posts its guest list and agenda for discussion among those invited. The purpose of the event, the group states, is to allow high-level stakeholders in various spheres talk about pressing issues in a relaxed atmosphere, but Chatham House rules apply – that is, participants are “free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s) nor any other participant may be revealed”. In practice, participants simply do not discuss anything which is said at the meetings.

Michael O’Leary, who according to the group’s guest lists has participated every year since 2015, is one of three Irish invitees listed as having attended the 2022 conference, along with Meath East TD and Minister for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, and the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe.

Among the items up for discussion at the meeting were “geopolitical realignments”, Russia, Ukraine, China “disinformation”, “trade and deglobalisation”, and the fragmentation of democratic societies. Despite the topics being discussed, there were – as Bilderberg is a primarily Western affair – notably no Russian or Chinese invitees on the guest list.

Also discussed was the topic of “post-pandemic health”, with Albert Bourla and Emma Walmsley, the CEOs of Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline respectively, among the contributors.

Coming hot on the heels of the controversial World Economic Forum at Davos, Bilderberg has been criticised over the years for what some call its democratic deficit, with the juxtaposition of tech billionaires alongside intelligence heads, media and political leaders inevitably raising eyebrows.

According to reporter Charlie Skelton, writing for The Guardian, the agenda for 2022 “reeks of chaos and crisis”, as opposed to the more “optimistic” programme discussed by elite stakeholders in 2019.