Fingers Fingleton’s years in the seminary weren’t a complete waste. He really would have made a marvellous cleric, though of course he did go on to become the High Priest of an equally corrupt institution. And just like a bona-fide Church cleric, he became an abuser — a financial one — abusing an entire country to the tune of €4 billion. I don’t know if he was born a hypocrite or developed his mental reservation skills on the job. Perhaps he picked it up in the seminary.
Certainly, his ability to deny reality and to evade a straight question would make any bishop proud.
When RTÉ’s David Murphy caught up with Fingers at Dublin airport, and asked him if he was remorseful, he agreed that he was. When pressed about having regrets, he blanched the matter with a smug, patronising and prelate-like “we all have regrets”. When Murphy asked him, having cost the country billions through his mismanagement of Irish Nationwide, if he would now be handing back his million-euro retirement bonus, old Fingers deflected the question by saying that he had already made a public statement on the matter. If he did, I’m unaware of it, but he certainly said nothing to the management of his former company who have received no replies to their numerous letters asking for the money back.
Make no mistake. That million euros will trim a lot of beards, and every penny of it is coming from your pocket.
However tenuous the argument for the Anglo rescue, Irish Nationwide is a building society, not a bank, and it’s by no means clear why it should be bailed out at all.
There is no rational explanation for it except the conclusion that many senior figures in Fianna Fáil were facilitated with loans, often — as in the case of Bertie Ahern’s girlfriend Celia Larkin — with minimal due diligence. Fingleton holds embarrassing paper on half the cabinet and half the party. He knows where the Spanish villas are, and the British apartments, and the slum flats in Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Galway that they haven’t declared for tax. He has a good idea where the rest of the money came from to buy these properties, and he also provided the loans when these politicians and party functionaries needed cash in a hurry without too many awkward questions.
This is an influential man, well got with the FFers and with the Catholic clergy. It was Fingleton who facilitated the meetings between Michael Woods and the nuns which finally ended in Woods and Ahern signing away over a billion euros of public finds to pay for the clerical child abuse.
We saw only too clearly the evasiveness, obfuscation and arrogance of the Catholic hierarchy as they dismissed Ireland’s outrage with impatient contempt. Fingleton is of this breed too, and if he had completed his divinity studies, he might well be one of the purple-robed old frauds who huddle in their palaces, still unable to grasp the fact that abuse is wrong.
He has the same sense of entitlement. The same bafflement that an ordinary mortal would dare to question him. The same overweening sense of his own temporal power even as the edifice he created now collapses under the weight of his incompetence and greed.
And yet, he must be kept quiet.
Ireland — you and your children — will be robbed to pay this ransom because the Fianna Fáil party cannot afford to anger Fingleton for fear he might expose the dirty secrets he plays with in the folds of his cassock.
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