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Paddy Cosgrave declares: I’ll pay €10,000 for the Merrion guest list

Paddy Cosgrave, pictured above, is the founder and CEO of the Web Summit, which was a staple event of the Irish calendar for a period in the 2010’s, until an infamous dispute about WIFI coverage in the RDS forced Paddy and guests to decamp to Portugal to hold the annual event. Back then, Paddy Cosgrave was a smooth-talking, charming, young entrepreneur on the rise. Today, he’s a very wealthy, and very left wing, political activist, waging a one man jihad on Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael. His latest move is interesting, if, as we will explain below, unlikely to come to anything:

To be fair to Cosgrave, it is absolutely in the public interest that the names of those who attended Zappone’s function should emerge. If nothing else, you suspect, it might give the public a little insight into who is friends with who, and how comfortably members of the Irish establishment in opposing parties and groups mingle with each other over canapes when nobody is looking.

It is obvious, too, that there are many people who attended the event who are eager that their attendance remain a secret. The media have been suspiciously content to back away from a pursuit of the guestlist in recent days, after it emerged that blessed Ivana Bacik was one of the attendees. One might suspect – suspect, now – that certain media outlets were represented at Katherine Zappone’s little soiree themselves.

But, let’s face it: Cosgrave’s offer of a reward is unlikely to deliver anything, for a couple of reasons.

First, and not to put too fine a point on it, the money is decent, but very unlikely to be big enough to entice anybody who was actually a guest at the event to rat out their fellow guests. For all that she posed as a champion of equality, it is highly unlikely that there was anybody who Katharine Zappone might invite to a party for whom €10,000 would be life-changing money. The risk of being exposed as a class traitor, for revealing the names of your fellow attendees, is worth a lot more than €10,000. If caught, the guest who leaked names for money would not be invited to this kind of event again.

But what about staff in the Merrion? Surely, you say, this offer is directed at them, and not guests?

Well the problem there is simple enough: How do you prove it? Cosgrave offers money, above, for a photograph. How many hospitality workers routinely, or at all, take photos at the events they are working at? Especially in a Hotel like the Merrion, where famous people and household names congregate on the regular? Staff in the Merrion will regularly see events with people much more significant than Katharine Zappone and Ivana Bacik – it would be highly unlikely that they would go around taking the photos that Cosgrave wants to pay for.

Perhaps, though, a staff member has a guest list? That’s highly unlikely, too. In all probability, Zappone just booked an event for 100 people, or so, and handled the invitations herself. Unless there is a seating plan which was given to the hotel (a long shot) it is unlikely that they would have a guest list themselves.

So, this is, on balance, highly unlikely to yield any names at all. It has succeeded, though, in yielding a bit of publicity for Paddy Cosgrave, by making people like me write about it. In that sense, you suspect, Paddy might consider it money well spent. Or not spent, in actual fact.

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