Let’s get this clear in our minds now.
The prime minister of this country went out for dinner with senior figures in Schrödinger’s Bank and failed to mention quantum theory.
The bank was screwed. It was insolvent. It was so heavily indebted that it threatened to destroy the entire economy, and might well do so yet, but Brian Cowen decided to play a round of golf with its chairman, Sean Fitzpatrick, followed by dinner. Cowens’s close friend and board member of Anglo, Fintan Drury, invited Cowen to attend the outing, also attended by Alan Gray, a director of the Central Bank; Gary McGann, another Anglo director and Biffo’s Garda driver who must have been wondering if he had segued into a parallel universe.
Today, Biffo refused to back down and resign, despite pressure from his own senior cabinet colleagues who have belatedly developed a rudimentary understanding of ethics. They didn’t know that Biffo had attended a meeting with directors of the worst failed bank in Irish history. They didn’t know that, at the meeting, he behaved as if nothing wrong had happened in that bank, or so they say.
The meeting took place at the same time that Anglo was lending money to people for the purpose of buying its own shares, thus artificially propping up their value. Two months later, Cowen issued a blanket guarantee to the banks, including Anglo that led directly to the calamitous state of our economy today.
But Biffo, according to his account, never mentioned banking at the dinner and neither did the desperately-worried Anglo chiefs. They were all happy enough to talk about football and sing the Lakes of Pontchartrain, even though their scrotums were on the line. What else would you do when your bank is going down the toilet? Even if you happen to be at a meeting with the prime minister, you wouldn’t dream of mentioning that your bank is fucked, when you could be chatting about sport and the weather.
Isn’t that right?
Of course it is.
And when you’re a prime minister who knows perfectly well that a bank is in deep trouble, obviously you wouldn’t see anything wrong with meeting its senior management for golf and dinner, followed by a few old songs in the bar. Isn’t that just the way we are?
Of course it is.
If you accept Biffo’s claims that there was no discussion of Anglo, you still have to ask yourself one question though.
Why was he there?
It adds a new meaning to “bunker mentality”.