Banking Film

Fat Cat Bankers Animation Crowdfunding Campaign

Now this is a crowdfunding campaign I could get behind.

Chris Brigdale is a decent enough skin who got shafted by the banks and he wants to make Fat Cat Bankers, a full-length animation about the rip-off merchants who robbed the entire world.

Here’s a trailer.

He needs £60,000 (that’s right, GBP) and he needs it fast, before the Indiegogo campaign runs out on the 30th September.  S0 far, the campaign has raised precisely zero.  Not a sausage.

I wonder if there’s enough time left to change that?

If it works, why not do another film about the Irish bankers who wrecked the economy?  They’d love that.


fat cat banker


Banking Favourites gardai Law

Seanie Fitz Applies For Free Legal Aid

Seán Fitzpatrick, former CEO and Chairman of Anglo-Irish Bank has applied to have his defence costs paid by the State  after his recent acquittal in the Circuit Criminal Court, and guess what?  He’s right.

I hope Seánie Fitz gets his costs, because in doing so, he will have exposed the iniquity of a criminal justice system that penalises innocent people.  As anyone who reads this site regularly knows, I’m no flag-bearer for the people who ran the worst bank in history, but in this case, I think Fitzpatrick has a valid point.

If you’re arrested and charged with an offence, no matter how frivolous or malicious that charge might be (assuming, of course that an Garda Síochána would ever do anything so improper), you’ll be stuck with your legal costs even if you’re acquitted.  Unless, that is, you happen to be a useless lowlife with 87 previous convictions who never worked a day in your life.  In those circumstances, the State will be happy to provide you with a defence team free of charge, even if you’re subsequently convicted for the 88th time.

But if you’re an ordinary Joe who happens to fall foul of the system, no matter how innocent you are, you might find yourself faced with ruinous legal costs.  In Ireland, it’s not necessary to be guilty to be punished.  All you have to do is be charged and you will have a gigantic de facto fine imposed on you for the privilege of demonstrating your innocence.  You will have to  pay because you’re one of the people who work to earn a little money.

This is an everyday reality faced by people who are acquitted in court.  Despite being innocent, they have to find, somehow, the tens of thousands of euro it took to convince a court that the State had failed to prove its case.

That’s why I think Seanie Fitz should get his costs.  Not because I have any sympathy for him, but because he was acquitted and is therefore innocent.

And because I’d like to have my costs covered too, if the State should decide to charge me with a crime I didn’t commit.

Who’d have thought that Sean Fitzpatrick, of all people, would become the champion of the Squeezed Middle?




Anglo-Irish Bank Trial — Usual Suspects Muddy the Waters

I’ve always found when carrying out gigantic, worldwide, corporate fraud that the self-appointed radicals are my best allies.

Take, for instance, my recent asset-stripping of the Irish economy, a project of which I’m particularly proud. Just as happened when my great-grandfather crashed the United States economy all those years ago, it was necessary to prepare scapegoats and allies, though the allies are not necessarily the ones you might expect.

Now here’s the thing. An innocent scapegoat is all very well when one is simply hunting tigers, but it cuts no mustard when hunting homo sapiens. Many a time in the jungles of India, I remember my grandfather urging me to forget my love for some dear pet. Tie it to the tree, there’s a good lad.

Looking back now, I understand what he was telling me, but of course it took some time to crush my childhood grief and become a man. Children are such slaves to sentiment.

My plan for the Irish economy was as simple as that employed in the 20s to take all wealth from America and place it in the hands of our favoured few families. I’m grateful indeed that Father chose to give me Ireland as a toy, and I hope I haven’t disappointed him.

The technique is remarkably simple. We do it again and again, and it astonishes me that nobody notices how easily we accomplish it, but of course, how could they when they possess not the slightest insight?

And yet, it’s laughably simple. In boxing terms, we can take more hits than everyone else. We can afford to see our holdings drop in value by 90%. We’ll go to 99% if you like, because you can’t take that amount of punishment and we can. When you fold, we’ll buy everything you own, for a pittance and we’ll end up owning the whole country.

It has always been thus, but there’s one thing we value above all else, and that’s invisibility, which is why we need culpable scapegoats and outraged protesters to point the finger in the wrong direction. Angry radicals are our friends, bless them.

In the Irish experiment, we identified a selection of greedy fools, half-educated idiots in control of banks, and we set them loose, but of course we had already undermined the foundations of the economy. All we needed was the idiot bankers to collapse and, I must admit, we had no control over the next part, even though our ancient European friends did their best to help us.

Let me be straight with you. Until that imbecile at the head of government chose to pledge the entire country in support of our gamble, we didn’t know if our little scheme would come off. I, for one, had my bags packed. I was ready to move on, but suddenly, against all predictions, the idiot did precisely what we hoped, and now we own Ireland.

I’m certain Father is pleased.

Mopping up is an essential part of these projects, but our preparation was thorough.

We had an array of greedy, incompetent bankers. We had the worst banking regulator who ever lived. We had one of our people at the head of the European central bank to apply pressure.

And finally, we had the angry, uninformed radicals to call for public hangings of the bankers.

Meanwhile, nobody is looking at us, and that’s the way it has always been.


Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick Acquitted of All Charges in Maple 10 Trial

It’s good to see that the jurors showed moral courage as directed by the judge and acquitted Seán Fitzpatrick on all charges.  I’m now going to retract everything I ever said about the banks and the Irish economy.

None of the Irish banks did anything wrong.  There was no travelling roadshow of money going from bank to bank to fool the auditor.  Anglo lent money to the Maple Ten simply because it seemed like a great business idea at the time.  It had nothing at all to do with propping up the bank.  The financial regulator kept all the banks under close scrutiny and Anglo executives never ridiculed him in private.  They also don’t know the words to Deutschland Uber Alles.

The financial regulator was probably the best in the world.  The Irish bankers were probably the most efficient bankers the world has ever seen.  The government was absolutely right to indemnify their bondholders, especially since there was no collapse and no money was handed over.

Not only that, but Anglo and Irish Nationwide are fine, well-run banks that remain in business to this day.  There is no crisis, the Troika never visited Ireland and we have 100% employment.  Sean Quinn is still the richest man in the country and runs a thriving insurance company among many other enterprises.  Property continues to boom and developers continue to enjoy the fruits of their magnificent vision.

Oh, and Bertie Ahern is still Taoiseach.


Economy Favourites Politics

It Was All Ireland’s Fault, Says Barroso

Here’s a question for you.  Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, is a former prime minister of what badly-run European country?

Simple.  The answer is Portugal, a country that, until 40 years ago, was not a democracy.  A country with an ancient tradition of colonialism and slavery that saw its empire spread across the entire world from the Americas to South-East Asia.

Portugal, or to be more precise, Portugal’s controlling elites, amassed a vast fortune over the centuries, which found expression in its magnificent cities.  As happens everywhere else, that’s how the unspeakably rich proclaim their wealth and even though Portugal was one of the infamous PIGGS group, such concerns are outside the experience of the  privileged elite that controls such places.  People like Jose Manuel Barroso.

Ireland has been a democracy of sorts for about forty years, which is not vastly greater than the period of Portugal’s freedom from dictatorship, and in any case, dictatorship comes in many forms.  It doesn’t always appear at the point of as gun or riding on a tank.  Besides, there is one huge difference between Portugal and Ireland: this country did not amass a vast infrastructure by stealing from and oppressing people across the world.  We didn’t establish a domestic aristocracy, otherwise known as armed thieves and we didn’t acquire a sense of international entitlement, although some of us did, inevitably, ape the manners of our English aristocratic masters.  Just as many English, Welsh and Scottish members of the underclass did when oppressed by the same intertwined wealthy families.

Sometimes dictatorship emerges in the form of emotional blackmail: we all partied, as Brian Lenihan notoriously remarked.  Sometimes it manifests itself when a government decides to beggar its people in order to protect the mega-wealthy who made a bad investment, as happened here in Ireland.  In this democracy which we call Ireland, it would have made no difference whether we lived under a ruling junta

In the absence of further information, Jose Manuel’s peremptory dismissal of retrospective recapitalisation of Ireland’s banks carries many overtones of  the old Portuguese aristocracyadmonishing a distant colony for having the temerity to speak out.  It was Irelands’s fault and Ireland needs to carry the consequences.

In a disturbed, bizarre way, JMB is right.  It is our fault, or to be more precise, it’s the fault of successive governments who rolled over and allowed their bellies to be tickled instead of doing precisely the thing that is now at the heart of European policy when dealing with failed banks.  Burning the bondholders.  Forcing them to take responsibility for their investment in failed ventures.

Ireland was strong-armed by the ECB into supporting every last one of the investors in Anglo-Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide when we should have been threatening to collapse the entire European banking system if they didn’t do something to help us.

Our thanks for taking that hit?  To be patronised by the former prime minister of country that is among the worst basket-cases in Europe.

Why?  Because Barroso has the bearing, the manner and the demeanour of gravitas, while our politicians are a bunch of forelock-tugging  serfs who did precisely what they were instructed to do because that’s how they’ve been programmed to behave.

Ireland has been abandoned to carry the burden for the entire European banking collapse thanks to the lack of vision on the part of our governments, both Fianna Fáíl and Fine Gael.  But of course, as I’ve always said, there’s no difference between those two outmoded parties anyway.  We are a one-party state, otherwise known as a dictatorship.


Economy Politics

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Sorriest of All?

brian cowen sorry for economic collapseNo one more sorry than I about what happened,’ says Cowen .

I have never met Brian Cowen.

The closest I came was twice, once when I saw him and some others in a hotel near the Dáil and the other time when a mutual acquaintance with whom he had been in school stood me up for a beer in favour of the then Deputy.  I am sure and am assured that he is a decent chap, and one who has as much empathy as any other. This can only be highlighted witnessing the shambles that society has entered into.  I believe him when he says that the actions, ultimately disastrous as they were and serially incredible as they seemed even at the time, were taken by him and his cabinet for the best of intentions. Alas, not just the road to Clara and political ignominy is paved with good intentions.

That said, it seems to me to degrade language for him, in his present circumstances of a 140k per annum pension, to say he is the sorriest of all.  A partial list of people whom one might think are more sorry than he for the economic collapse might include

  • the nearly 400,000 people who have emigrated since the start of 2009
  • the nearly 200,000 people who have not emigrated but who as of July 2013 were more than one year on the live register.
  • the residents of Priory Hall left in the lurch by state, court and society but who are being hounded for payment by the banks they saved
  • the residents of poxy pyrite mansions dotted round the country who have been left in the lurch by insurers, Homebond, the state and the legal system
  • the 77,000 people who saw their respite care grant cut.
  • economists in banks who ramped the system
  • economists in universities who could have, but didn’t, shout stop earlier or at all
  • the 50 or so FF TDs who lost their jobs in 2011
  • The 30 plus Labour TDs not in cabinet who now face the electoral whirlwind in 2014

One could go on.

This is not an Anti FF post. It is anti a style of political rhetoric which thinks a half-baked apology en grudge served on a bed of self-justification with a glass of crocodile tears is enough. Far better to respond to all media with ” I am retired from politics.  What we did we did for what we thought then were the right decisions. Of course I regret any pain and suffering my and others actions caused. Thank you”. Simple, dignified, and accurate. Engaging in competitive misery from a well paid retirement is none of the above.


This article also appears on Brian Lucey’s website here.


David Drumm and the Anglo Tapes Might Expose Hijack of Irish Democracy

It’s a little disconcerting to hear people expressing horror at the cursing in the Anglo tapes.  Hello?  This is Ireland where everyone fucking curses all the fucking time.  What exactly is the problem with Drumm and Bowe swearing in the course of a private conversation?

Let’s look instead at the tone of those discussions, and in particular the conniving, the scheming and the utter lack of respect for the regulatory authorities.   But of course, respect has to be commanded, and it’s now plain that the people supposedly in charge of controlling the banks were weak, indecisive and in some cases, downright incompetent.  They were also supine, deferential and ineffectual in the face of a complete banking meltdown.

The latest Anglo tapes reveal a plan to artificially prop up the failed bank’s balance sheet by temporarily getting money from another bank, but where’s the surprise?  We knew that five years ago.  We knew that all the banks were engaging in this charade by passing a ball of money between them because the regulator failed to set a single day and time when they were all simultaneously audited.  Today my books are checked and in the afternoon, I send you the money.  After you get cleared, you pass it on to the next guy and so it goes.

Nobody was watching – not even the highly paid private firms of accountants who were supposed to carry out the detailed scrutiny, because it’s all a buddy’s club.


I can understand what motivated the bankers: profit and fear.  I can imagine that some of the politicians might have been motivated by the same things, but I don’t get what drove the civil servants to be so utterly stupid.  What was in it for them?  Did they stand to make a huge gain by preventing the collapse of the non-banks?  No, they didn’t.  Their salaries would be the same tomorrow as they were yesterday.  Did they stand to lose a huge amount if the banks went under?  No, for the same reason.

So why did they become so pally with the bankers that they found themselves uttering soothing words over the phone, empathising with their predicament when in fact they should have been kicking them hard in the crotch and demanding answers?  How did it come about that the man directly supervising Anglo could call John Bowe to ask if he might possibly make the time to drop down for a few minutes?  Unless we’re clever we might bring the whole thing down on top of us.  What’s this we stuff?  Why on earth would a civil servant say such a thing to the man he’s supposed to be watching?

We all remember how, back in 2009, the banks and a number of civil servants issued legal threats against newspapers.  Both Anglo and Irish Nationwide responded extremely aggressively to any suggestion that they might be unviable, even though any fool could see they had already failed beyond redemption by that time.  Likewise, certain civil servants threatened action against anyone who suggested they might have lacked the competence to advise the government properly on the bank guarantee.  Four years later, it’s plain that the banks were dead ducks and also that the civil servants were not up to the task of controlling their excesses.

Is it Stockholm Syndrome?  I don’t think so.  To me, it looks more like residual envy.  They used to see these banking spivs as masters of the Universe, they used to lionise them, look up to them and wonder why they themselves were stuck in a humdrum civil service job while the smart boys were on the really big money.  It’s bound to have an effect if you happen to be the regulator and you know that the guy you’re trying to intimidate earns ten times as much as you do.  He might be a slippery three-card-trick merchant, he might be Del-Boy, but he has a flasher motor than you.  It’s human nature.

So I think what happened is this: the mindset became established and the civil service found it impossible to shake off the feeling of deference after the slide had begun.  Once people find their place in the pecking order, it’s very hard to change the relationships without changing the people.  And that’s why Drumm felt he could get away with intimidation, bluster and bullshit.  The regulators didn’t really understand the problem, and they were still labouring under the legacy of deference engendered in the Tiger years.

So, what about Drumm?

Well, he’s clearly up to his neck in the whole disaster, but it would be a mistake to focus exclusively on him and it would also be a serious error to dismiss what he’s been saying since the tapes started to be released.  Now that Drumm is cornered, he’s extremely dangerous to just about everyone who had any sort of involvement with the financial disaster, however peripheral that involvement might have been.  He’ll name names.  He’ll point fingers, and if he’s going down, you can be sure he’ll take as many with him as he can.

government buildings

Drumm has already started asking questions and naming names.  What did Lenihan know?  What did Cowen know?

What was the involvement of the AIB chief executive and its chairman, Eugene Sheehy and Dermot Gleeson?  What about the Bank of Ireland CEO and its chairman, Brian Goggins and Richard Burrows?  They were present in Government Buildings on the night of the guarantee, the night of the now-notorious incorporeal cabinet meeting.  Did Sheehy, Gleeson (a former Attorney General), Goggins and Burrows (currently chairman of British-American Tobacco) act as members of a quasi-cabinet, while the elected ministers slumbered in their beds?  If this is true and if such a quasi-cabinet made the most momentous decision ever taken on behalf of Ireland, the implications are enormous.

It means that an unelected ad-hoc government, partly composed of bankers, took a decision that will leave generations of Irish people in slavery.  And that decision was taken exclusively in order to save those bankers from going out of business.

That’s the real scandal.

Let’s hear what David Drumm has to say.  It might prove interesting.


Banking Favourites Scandal

100 things Ireland could have got for the price of one Anglo Irish Bank

With the #anglotapes this week it seemed to me a good time to recall those heady days of August 2010 when we had spent only €25 billion on Anglo.  At that time Ronan Lyons and I penned this little piece in the Sunday Business Post.  — BL


This week, it was announced that the EU had approved a further injection of our taxpayer money into additional capital for Anglo-Irish Bank . This brings the total as of now to  almost €25 billion.  This is money going into a bank that is essentially in wind-down over the coming decade, money that the Irish citizens and taxpayers will not see again, as it is shoring up the balance sheet of a bank that had too much imaginary wealth.  And that is not the end of the money, many fear.

So just how much is €25bn that we are having to borrow for Anglo? In one way, it’s small change, compared to what will possibly be €200bn in borrowings by the State to fund the non-banking deficit between the onset of the crisis and 2020. But to any rational mind €25bn is still a mind-bogglingly large amount of money.  The State has limited borrowing capacity, limited by a combination of what the taxpayer can repay. In putting €25 billion into Anglo, the government, on our behalf, has spent money that can not be used for other projects.  Here is a list, then, of 100 things – grouped into various categories – that the government could have spent €25 billion but chose not to.

Ireland could make a major contribution to fighting global poverty world-poverty

€25 billion would go a long way in the fight against global poverty. Here are a few suggestions:

100. Buy enough malaria nets to protect the entire malaria-affected population of the world (half a billion people) for 80 years (based on NothingButNets figures of $10 a net)

99. Completely fund the World Food Programme for five years

98. Repair twice over the damage done to Haiti in the recent earthquake

97. Fund enough clean water and infrastructure projects to meet the Millennium Development Goals in those areas

96. Buy up and extinguish the national debt of Bangladesh

95. Fund the UNESCO “Information for All” Project for 1200 years

94. Provide food aid to Niger for 1000 years

93. Asphalt every trunk and regional road (110,000km) of substandard road in sub-Saharan Africa

Ireland could become a World Science and Technology Hub leneye

Major scientific and technological projects cost a lot of money. But rarely €25 billion.  Here are a few ways Ireland could have used the money to become a global hub for major breakthroughs in science and technology.

92. Start our own space programme, with twenty €1.2 billion space shuttles

91. Foot the bill for a century of global research into nuclear fusion (the current 30-year global ITER project is expected to cost €5-10 billion)

90. Research & develop 5000 new drugs. One of  ’em’s bound to be useful

89. Construct 6 Large Hadron Colliders – one for each Green Party TD

88. Build 5 James Webb Space Telescope (the successor to Hubble), and revolutionise astronomy

87. Build two magnetoplasma space vehicles which in theory could get to mars in 40 days

86. Build a space elevator

85. Build two ITER nuclear fusion reactors and provide the world with cheap, abundant energy.

We could decide to give ourselves a break holidays

What about using the €25bn to give ourselves a break? Here are a number of things that €25 billion could pay for, while we take a break.

84. Pay the interest on everyone’s mortgage for 4 years (€147 billion of mortgages at 4% is €5.88 billion a year)

83. Abolish income tax for two years (based on 2009 gov income tax receipts of €11.8 billion)

82. Offer everyone on the live register €100,000 to emigrate (we could afford a 50% take-up by the 466,000 on the dole)

81. Abolish VAT for two and a half years (based on 2009 receipts of €10.8 billion)

80. Remove excise duty from fuel, tobacco and alcohol until 2015 (based on exise receipts of €4.7 billion a year)

79. Pay the grocery bills of everybody in the country for 2.5 years

78. Scrap all fares on all forms of public transport, intercity and commuter trains and buses for 33 years

We could just treat ourselves scrooge-mcduck-1

We could just treat ourselves with the €25 billion windfall. Here are some suggestions as to how.

77. Run the world’s best ever lottery – every Irish citizens is entered into a draw where 25,000 people become millionaires!

76. Give every OAP a pension of 55,000 for a year….

75. Fly the adult population of Ireland to Las Vegas, give everyone €10k to gamble with

74. Give every person in the country €5,555.56

73. Buy half a million ecofriendly Nissan Leaf cars and have enough for a 5GW nuclear power station with the cash left over

72. Provide a new laptop every year to every second level student for 147 years

71. Buy a 32GB iPhone, a 64GB iPad, a 13? 2.13GHz MacBook Air and a 27-inch iMac for every man, woman and child living in Ireland

We could treat the world icecream

Treating ourselves is probably a bit selfish. Here are some ways to make the rest of the world like us more!

70. Buy 6.7 billion copies (one for everybody in the world) of Joyce’s “portrait of the artist as a young man”

69. Buy a pint of guinness for everyone in the world to celebrate Arthur’s Day (and it would count as exports)

68. Buy every child in the world a 99 ice-cream cone every day for a week

67. Send every adult in the world on an MSc in Social Media in NCI

66. Send 225,000 people to do the Harvard MBA

We could truly become the world’s biggest sports fan 10bestclubs_2012

Sport is big business. But not that big. With €25 billion, we could…

65. Buy the world’s 20 most valuable soccer clubs, worth €9.6 billion, wipe their debt (€2.3 billion) and move them to Ireland, building each a 75,000-seater stadium (€600m each, based off cost of Aviva stadium)

64. Host two Olympics games, based on the London 2012 cost of €11.2 billion

63. Buy Tonga and Fiji, which would have obvious rugby advantages

62. Construct 25 Bertie-bowls (one for each county except Dublin!)

61. Buy 83,300 McLaren supercars

60. Buy the entire stock of tickets and merchandise for all premier league clubs for the next 12 years

We could decide to really become a major player on world markets 2374

Banking and finance got us into this mess. Surely they can get us out?

59. Buy €600 billion in Credit Default Swaps on Ireland (could pay off nicely in the next few years!)

58. Buy two of Asia’s largest banks – Bank Central Asia and Malayan Banking

57. Recapitalise ALL the banks in Europe that failed the stress tests

56. Purchase Monsanto, as a present for the green party, or (buy Nokia as a present for Ivor Callely)

55. Give each one of the 10,000 most senior bankers a round of golf on old head Kinsale, the most expensive course in Europe, every day for 20 years, and hope that they come up with some ideas!

54. Subsidise the US postal service for ten years.

53. Allow the Italian Government to not put in place its 3-year austerity plan.

52. Pay the salaries of TCD and UCD academics for 100 years.

We could just do it  because we can burjkhalifadubai-828m

While the Government says it’s not a waste of €25 billion, many people believe it is. Here are ten ways to really spend €25bn.

51. Buy Steve Jobs (€25 billion is actuarial value on his life) and get him to work for Ireland Inc.

50. Buy gold plating 1.75mm thick for O’Connell Street

49. 25,00 carats of red diamond, enough to encrust a Mercedes.

48. Build a shed 10k long by 4k wide and put it around Tullamore.

47. Buy every one of the 5.8m cattle in the country, and to keep their little feet cosy two pairs of jimmy choos each

46. Detach the People’s Republic of Cork from the Republic of Ireland, by constructing a 10-metre wide moat – the per-kilometre cost of the new Gothard Tunnel in Switzerland suggests this may cost €30bn but I’m sure we could haggle them down in a recession.

45. Cover the entire county of Dublin a foot deep in corn

44. Hire Bertie to speak for 95 years

43. Purchase carbon credits to allow us to burn 3,000 sq miles of hardwood forest

42. Build 20 copies of the Burj Khalifa Dubai, the worlds tallest building

We could just splash the cash item0-size-queen-mary-2-100488-1

When people win the lottery, there’s naturally a tendency to splash the cash. Winning a €25 billion lottery would certainly allow us to splash the cash.  Here are some ideas.

41. Buy 1,000 luxury yachts to kickstart the Upper Shannon Rural Renewal Scheme (78-footers, 2nd-tier Russian oligarch standard)

40. Buy over one third of Denmark, 10% of France or three Luxembourgs, based on 2008 land costs

39. Send 833 people into space (or perhaps just 1,666 one way trips…)

38. Stay in the most expensive hotel room in the world for 3,400 years (it’s the Atlantis resort, Bahamas in case you were wondering)

37. Build 50 ginormous cruise liners akin to Carnival Splendour or Queen Mary 2

36. Make 100 Avatar-type films, which lets remember made back its money x4 at the box office!

35. Buy every TD a Boeing Dreamliner, ideal for those trips to Glenties

34. Purchase 35 of the world’s most expensive mobile phone (goldstriker iPhone 3GS supreme) for every member of the Oireachtas!

33. Build four Libraries of Alexandia in each county.

32. Endow one university to the level of Harvard.

31. Tile Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown totally in nice porcelain.

30. Buy five Nimitz Class Nuclear supercarriers to scare the bejaysus out of the Spanish trawlers.

29. Or buy 17 Virginia Class nuclear attack submarines, if we wanted to sneak up on the Spanish trawlers instead.

28. Supply the water needs of Galway City, for a year, with Perrier water

27. Purchase four Birkin Hermes bags for every adult female in the country, one for each season’s wardrobe.

26. Buy and install 100 sq yards of parquet flooring for every single dwelling in the country.

25. Fill the Jack Lynch Tunnel with Midleton Single Cask whiskey

24. Purchase 225,000 kg of the most expensive truffles in the world

23. Buy every house and apartment listed on and still have 12 billion left to refurbish them

We could transport ourselves  out of this mess 98962638-crop-rectangle3-large

With €25 billion in our back pockets, all those pie-in-the-sky superprojects would no longer be pie in the sky! Here are ten ways Ireland could put itself on the global superproject map.

22. Construct our own “Channel Tunnel” from Rosslare to Pembroke (based on the cost of the Jack Lynch tunnel)

21. Build 1,000 km of high-speed rail, serving all major coastal cities on the island (based on recent costs in Spain)

20. Build 11,150 miles of dual carriageway

19. Put in place a 400 station metro (if we could build it for the cost of Porto’s metro)

18. Put in place a Maglev train from Belfast to Cork via Dublin

17. Build our own Three Gorges Dam, complete with turbines

16. Put in place 12 new Luas lines

15. Build just short of two Hong Kong International Airport (€15 bn each)

14. Build 12 New York-style “Freedom Towers” at €2bn each

13. If we didnt want a tunnel we could have five Oresund-style 20km long bridges (Denmark – Sweden, €5b)

We could pay for improved public services childrenshospital

And lastly, some slightly more practical ways to spend €25bn

12. Build 75 brand new 50-teacher schools and run them for 75 years

11. Build 35 new Children’s Hospitals (based on €700m cost of new Children’s Hospital in Dublin)

10. Pay for an extra 5,000 hospital consultants for 62.5 years, based on Finnish wage (or for 29 years based on Irish wages)

9. Pay for cervical cancer vaccines for every girl going into 1st year for the next 8,333 years

8. Reduce the pupil teacher ratio in primary schools to 1 in 10 for the next 20 years

7. Given an ultra highspeed fibre-optic broadband connection to every single house (including ghost estates…)

6. Buy 8,500 years of private speech and language counselling and really help autistic and speech problematic children

5. Introduce free pre-schooling for 32 years, based on an average cost of €700 a month for two years of 10 months, for all 110,000 children in the country

4. Make education properly free – the current cost from primary school to degree graduation is €70,000 per child. €25bn would bring nearly 400,000 students through their entire education

3. Give medical cards to everyone, for 25 years based on €500m cost in 2009 to cover 1.5m people

2. We  could use the money to renew and replace the drainage and water system of all mains

1. Or we could buy one broken bank…oh, hang on…..

So, a mixture of the bizarre, the stupid, the deeply practical, the useful, all tinged with a sense of lost opportunity. A bit like the government’s solution to the banking crisis really! What this list shows us is that choices matter. Its unlikely that any government would have #50, paving O’Connell street in gold, as a priority (well, not perhaps unless its leader was from Dublin Central), But wouldn’t it be nice if we had a government with the courage and vision to do #18, a maglev on the east coast, which would catapult Ireland into a world leading technological position and cement the all-Ireland economy? or decide  #96 to lift Bangladesh out of poverty? Or … the list goes on, a list of lost opportunities.  And when one considers the additional €100 billion that represents the structural element of the government debt, well…

While Colm McCarthy is correct, that anger is not a policy, its hard to be anything but enraged when one considers the sheer scale of wasted opportunities.


Prof. Brian Lucey


Economy Favourites Religion

Religious Orders Not So Different from Bankers

The Magdalene survivors are to be paid something by the State to compensate them for their time imprisoned and enslaved by the religious orders.  This is only right and proper, although not everyone agrees that the amount offered is fair.  Some survivor groups have accepted the offer and others have rejected it, but at least it’s an offer on the table, with a scale of compensation set out clearly, based on the period of incarceration.

And yet, it’s hard not to ignore the strange parallel between the attitudes of the religious orders and the behaviour of the clowns in Anglo-Irish bank

Anyone who followed the appalling meat grinder that was the Residential Institutions Redress Board will be relieved.  Nobody – especially not a person rendered vulnerable and inarticulate by abuse – should have to appear before a board of stern examiners, as happened with the RIRB.  The examination process was cold, analytical, inquisitorial and deeply intimidating to people who had, at best, a limited education.  For many, it compounded the suffering inflicted in the industrial schools.  As if that wasn’t enough, even though the survivors were represented legally at public expense, many lawyers subsequently hit them with additional legal bills despite having been paid already.

The offer applies to about 600 women and the scale of payment ranges from €11,500 for people incarcerated for three months to €20,500 for one year, €68,500 for five years to a maximum of €100,000 for anyone imprisoned for ten years or more.  I hope this is a sliding scale and not a stepped scale, to avoid bureaucratic injustices where a woman locked up for nine years and eleven months is denied the full payment.  This is not a vague remote possibility.  This kind of thing happens all the time due to the narrow vision of the typical Irish administrator.

Of course, as is normal, the religious orders are complaining about being asked to pay their share, just as they did when asked to pay a minuscule proportion of the compensation arising from the Ryan report.  Of the €1.4 billion final outcome, the taxpayer has so far carried almost the entire cost.  In their own defence, the nuns are saying that they still pay for 100 women in their care.  Or to put it another way, they continue to feed their slaves in old age, which is very Christian indeed.  It will be very surprising if they contribute a penny to the State’s costs, because these are not people who believe in contributing.

It’s only right that the Magdalene women should be offered full health care and a minimum weekly income before reaching pension age, but yet, here we go again.  The State is carrying the full cost — and here, I should point out that the amount is trivial compared to the scale of the scam inflicted on us by the Anglo spivs.  The total lump-sum cost of compensating the Magdalene survivors will come to about €30 million.  Even if we included the €1.4 billion spent on the redress board, the total comes to a figure less than one twentieth of the hardship inflicted on the citizens by Anglo and Irish Nationwide.

So let’s get things in context, and let’s also remember that these women are far more deserving of compensation than the bondholders of failed banks who couldn’t believe their luck when Lenihan announced his ill-conceived bailout of gamblers and hedge funds.

The bankers, the priests and the nuns, behind all the superficial differences, share a similar mindset.  They share a belief that the Irish State owes them something.  They share a belief that they are above the civil law, and most of all, they share a belief, which was subsequently shown to be correct, they they would never have to pay anything back.   And let’s not forget that the bankers formed a sort of priestly brotherhood whose expertise, we now know, was not based on any kind of scientifically-confirmed knowledge, but, in their own words, picked out of their arses.  Much like religion, in other words.

For different, and yet strangely similar reasons, the State found it necessary to step in and cover the damage caused by these two very different, and yet very similar,  societal groups.  It’s no accident that bankers and priests were on the list of people of impeccable probity who could sign an official document on your behalf.   How times change.

There’s no escaping the question: do we Irish have a disastrous failing that leads us to believe every chancer, wide-boy and bunco-artist who sets himself up as an authority in some fake doctrine, whether it happens to be religion or banking?

And as a corollary, why don’t we as a nation force the perpetrators to carry the consequences of their actions?   There are very few clerics in jail and even fewer bankers.


Full text of report here:

Download (PDF, 1.17MB)






Sean Dunne Files for Bankruptcy

It’s hard to avoid the irrelevant details when talking about Sean Dunne.

Let’s forget his friendship with Bertie Ahern.  Let’s forget the cringe-inducing wedding on the Onassis yacht.  It’s hard to avoid the vulgarity.  It’s hard to ignore the Z-lister gossip-columnist wife.  It’s hard to turn away from the sheer over-moneyed, under-educated brashness of it all, but we must, because there are far more important issues at stake.

sean dunne

It’s true that, like Haughey, Sean Dunne purchased an instant veneer of culture and by doing so won over a shoal of vapid, shallow wannnabes, but let’s ignore that.   Let’s ignore the mesmeric fascination of quick money.  Instead of seeing the silly Irish non-celebrity fools who inhabit Sean Dunne’s world of champagne vulgarity, let’s focus on the fact that his billion-euro bankruptcy will hurt not only banks, but also a host of smaller contractors and suppliers who had to lay off workers when Sean’s ludicrous, ego-driven plans went off the rails.  That’s a lot of bankrupt people who – unlike Sean and the gossip queen – won’t have an opportunity to appeal to the Connecticut courts.  A lot of families without a home.  A lot of people who don’t know where the next dinner is coming from.

Good man, Dunner, as his close friend, Da Bert,  might say.

And let’s not  ignore the distorted thinking behind Dunne’s claim that he paid €250 million in tax on behalf of his employees.

He did not.

He employed people who gave him their honest labour.  He reimbursed them as required by his contract and he made a profit.  They in turn paid their taxes like any law-abiding citizen and not one penny of those taxes was paid by Sean Dunne.  But of course, this is not how such people think.

Usurping the role of the Revenue Commissioners and the elected government, Sean Dunne has declared that his debt is paid, and that’s the end of it.  What’s implicit in a statement like that?  Simple: it means that in the minds of people like Dunne, some laws simply don’t apply.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all decide which laws to obey and which to ignore?  Instead of being enraged by our taxes, we can simply declare that our debt is paid.

Sean Dunne is currently asking the Connecticut courts to forgive him debts of about €1 billion, and while much of this money might well be owed to the hated banks, a large chunk is owed to the Irish taxpayer, and the rest is owed to people who supplied him with goods and services — otherwise known as people trying to make an honest living.

Those people are now destroyed, while Sean Dunne continues to live in a vast rented mansion and  boasts that he’ll be back in business within a year or two.

When we see what’s going on at home, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for Dunne’s brand of financial distress.