A very Irish story

If we were to choose one reform to improve Irish governance, what would it be? I would probably start with our libel laws, which directly allow mediocre bullies to shut down legitimate discussion and dissent, and indirectly help promote a culture of groupthink. We need more information and more discussion in this country, not less. And the Independent has done us a huge favour by releasing the Anglo tapes.

The law can stifle the dissemination of information and debate in other ways as well. I’ve no idea why the DPP has asked the Indo to stop releasing more tapes, assuming that this Irish Times story is true. All the Irish Times tells us is that “it expressed concern about the potential consequences of the emergence of certain other information into the public domain.” No doubt the DPP has its reasons. But the cost to the general public both in Ireland and abroad is high, since we all need more information, not less, about how bankers behave in practice.

136 replies on “A very Irish story”

The DPP has for whatever reason sat on the case for years. While it would be nice to see criminal trials, the instant someone is put in front of a jury the legal eagles (or turkey vultures) will hotfoot it to get the trial stopped regardless of any tapes, on the grounds of the impossibility of getting a fair jury. And they may be right.
So, if the state wont act or cant act, then someone has to .There was a time when the media were the fourth estate before they became regurgitators of press releases. Its to their credit that we now now more than we did last week.
If the DPP really is concerned, head to court either with bankers in the dock or the Indo in the dock. Enough whining and hiding.

The quality of our democracy is a function of the quality of our public debate/discussion. The soft landing economists/fools /bullies/vested interests drowned out all the economists who called it right.

No doubt the DPP has its reasons.

The only good reason I can think of is that we are eventually going to see some prosecutions. I’m not holding my breath. All sorts of bad reasons come to mind. But why are we left guessing? If someone set off a bomb in the city centre causing a few miserable millions’ worth of damage we’d have reports about the ongoing investigations and appeals for witnesses to come forward. Why is white-collar crime treated so differently?

Ok – your statement that this is “a very Irish story” could be seen as racist.
I don’t accept that there is something unique to Irish people that allows their government to be subverted by powerful interests.
I challenge you to tell me why this is uniquely Irish (this is not meant in a personal way – the first step to sorting this out will be understanding that this is about human nature and not specific races)

We need reform of more then the libel laws to allow open debate.

In 2000 Mary Harney said that Charles Haughey “should be convicted” for what he did to the country in an interview with the Sunday Independent. Her intervention gave the Judge reason to quash the criminal case against him and he never saw the inside of a cell.

In comparison to today, Haughey’s crimes seem mild. It seems everyone is going to say enough to make a Judge think a fair trial is impossible. And these guys will walk.

I would hate to be an Attorney General walking that line.

However, all the major political parties have promised to reform Libel Laws since at least the 80’s. And since none of them have done it, perhaps this is a cross of their own making.

One ‘reform’. Give the Ombudsman unfettered, Constitutional protection (answerable only to the Oireacthas in full session) to enquire into anything – and publish the results. They would be privileged. And so what if The Heavens fall.

I think ‘we’ may be unduly afeared. Tell what is true (you need to have some evidence to back up your story). If blocked, tell it anyway. Its the ‘guilty’ that need to be afeared. Mind you, if you tell untruths (or lies), then you need to be afeared.

No one has any ‘right’ to their ‘good name’ – just a presumption of innocence. Claiming that someone will not get a ‘fair trial’ is a gross slander on the ordinary citizen who may have to sit in the jury box. As they say (in engineering design testing), “Just suck it and see!”. The results are (usually) agreeable. If not. Then start over. Works every time.

So the DPP believes that the truth emerging could have “potential consequences”.

So what?

Our courts have been able to deal with all types of threats over the years.

When conditions arise that society is incapable of operating a fair jury system some other system should be invoked. This happened in Northern Ireland where it became impossible to have a jury who would give the prosecution a fair hearing because of intimidation. The solution was three judge non jury courts.

In Anglo situation it probably is now impossible to give Drummer et al a fair jury trial, so legislation should be passed to try these people by three judges with possibly one being from outside the country.


Mr Haugheys crimes were not mild—his crimes helped to create the property bubble.

Mr Haughey required a minimum of a million pounds per year to finance his lavish lifestyle. All Mr Haugheys bagmen are sovereign landlords. Haughey ensured Ireland had the most anti-tenant commercial property lease law in the world i.e upward-only rent reviews tied to the longest leases in the world with no exit strategies. Reckless Irish banks lent tens of billions against these ruinous leases,not against the properties themselves, and created the greatest commercial property bubble in the history of mankind. When this bubble burst it bankrupted the banks and the sovereign.

No other sovereign in the world would sign these ruinous leases and waste billions of it’s citizens money.
All Haughey’s bagmen are sovereign landlords.


‘…the Independent has done us a huge favour..’.

The Independent would do another one by explaining precisely the reasons why it decided to heed the DPP’s advice/threat.

“choose one reform to improve Irish governance, what would it be?”

Abolish the political party form of governance.

We require to move away from this tribalism, FF vrs FF etc, it’s no longer fit for purpose.

On another point…. we should be taking note of the political events which have occurred and are continuing to occur in other countries, Brazil, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya etc.

Last month.. Gardai had to take action as a massive party was organised in a beach in N. Dublin, involved shutting a train station!

Political parties now have a new formidable force to be reckoned with….

Social Media and the internet.

Can we really not change the wording in this thread?

There’s nothing uniquely Irish about any of this. France is badly run, Germany is in the pockets of the arms industry, the UK has some very dodgy military engagements, the US arms terrorists against its people’s wishes.

Agree on the need for reform globally but we really miss a hugely important part of the solutions if we don’t think of this globally. Financial markets are global – do should governance

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

“Millstones of Justice turn exceedingly slow, but grind exceedingly fine.”
~John Bannister Gibson (1780-1853), American jurist, Pennsylvania Supreme Court.]

“Mills of the Gods, Grind exceedingly slow, But grind exceedingly fine…”
~Euripides (485-406 BC)

Justice, even if slow, is sure~Solon, Fragments (c. 600 BC)

Justice, though moving slowly, seldom fails to overtake the wicked~Horace, Odes, (23 BC)

The DPP is evidently interested in avoiding sand being thrown in them by well-intentioned persons, possibly with the help of those with every interest in seeing sand liberally distributed.

There is still IMHO respect for due process, the rule of law and the judiciary in Ireland. This is a precious asset.

It is useful to have a dramatisation of The Night the Roof Fell In. However, it is but the the final act in a play that has been running for two decades; with active audience participation!




“Inaction is also to be seen in the administration of justice. Tribunals have failed by every measure, yet they have been allowed to grind on and successive justice ministers have put forward no alternatives – such as the creation of the role of investigating magistrate, as exists in other jurisdictions

2 The public should be allowed to get a referendum going with a set number of signatures- say 50,000

3 Accountability at the decision-making nexus of ministers and senior civil servants. Would it be too much to ask for important decisions like 440bn bank guarantees to be documented?

4 joined up thinking between departments

5 A legal whistleblower to lift the lid on the Augean stables of the legal profession . How can it be that laywers working on corruption cases get paid more than the amount involved in the original corruption ?

At least Wolfgang Schauble is not too worried about our libel laws

Now Schauble weighs in

More from Germany

„Diese Banker gefielen sich offensichtlich in der Rolle von abgehobenen Übermenschen, die nur Verachtung für ihre Mitmenschen haben. Dabei waren sie es, denen unsere Verachtung zuteil kommen sollte und denen wir das Handwerk legen müssen”

“These bankers seem to like themselves in the role of aloof super humans who only have contempt for their fellow humans,” Schaeuble was quoted as saying. “Instead it is they who should get our contempt and to whose game we should put a stop.”



You are living in a banana republic…this has to stop,as does the exodus from NAMA to PE firms.A cooling off period has been suggested…..the chap who supervised the BofI coco sale is another example he’s with wait for it…the buyer these days.
“Detective Superintendent Colm Featherstone and Det Inspector Denis Heneghan are both just over 50 and would have had at least eight years’ service left before compulsory retirement. They were both offered senior positions; Det Super Featherstone with AXA and Det Insp Heneghan with AIB, to oversee compliance and anti-fraud measures.
Their early departures are a blow to the Garda Fraud Bureau and come after the early departure of another detective superintendent, Pat Collins, who left at the start of the year to take up a position as head of fraud and anti- money laundering with the Bank of Ireland.”

John you’re writing that from a country (IIRC) where the global economic crisis began, which has the highest incarceration rate in the world, that has historically disenfranchised non whites etc etc etc etc !!
God save me from the US solution

@rf yep we took a few bil off done dump ass paddy bankers correct…they were eh masters of the universe types.but thanks for visiting we enjoyed it make sure if you ever have a banking industry again to stop by.
Say hi to Wilbur too and KW who are scooping up as much away as possible…wonder why they will do with their profits …

The mushrooms were getting too much day light. Was it Keynes that described daylight as a great disinfectant? “This could prejudice the case against my client and deny him a fair public hearing”. The stock phrase, most often used to close down any investigation. They, might do well to consider that what is at stake here, is peoples perception of reality i.e. that there is corruption at the highest levels of our society. The very top. This clamp down feeds the stereo type of banker/developer/politician collusion, reinforcing and confirming our worst fears.

The DPP should be ignored by the Irish Independent and by the Irish people whom DPP’s have gone out of their way to seriously ignore. Why have prosecutions only been made at Circuit Court Level? Why was a glacial pace chosen? Why are only, what might be describes as, a random select few being charged? What happened to, “Justice delayed is justice denied”?

Toothless reforms to the system of jurisprudence in this country have led to massive dissatisfaction with the whole criminal justice system being unfit for purpose. Starting in the juvenile court in Smithfield where juveniles regularly stand up and tell judges to f off all the way to the “Criminal Courts of Justice” in the Phoenix Park, complete with judges and their wigs and gowns and their tipstaff. The system is hugely unfit for purpose, much like the financial system that we also failed to recognise was also hugely unfit for purpose, that was, until it collapsed around us. It’s inherently flawed as amply demonstrated by the non prosecution of WCC white collar crime. If this needed to be demonstrated, then the financial crisis, the collapse of the countries finances with nobody held to account demonstrated it. A few Anglo executives being put on trial, to my mind, is simply a cover up. It is an insult, and at the end of the day, we all know, they are going to get a limp slap on the wrist.

It is much more important to reveal the systemic connections and failures manifest at Dept of Taoiseach, DoF, Central Bank and IFRA levels, to punish, demote and sack those involved and if they have already been hived off to withdraw pensions if malfeasance is proved.

I want to know why these failures are already happening again? Could it be because we have not excised those responsible or even promoted some of them? We still have that other stock phrase the “group think”, with a small coterie of powerful investors, bank executives and captured politicians dictating government “strategy” nothing has changed.

Paddy Healy had a letter in the Irish Times calling on David Begg to explain his 15 years on the board of the CB from 1995 to 2010. I believe that Mr. Healy has a good nose and detects an odour with which he is very familiar with in trade union circles.

US style libel law where there is wide latitude in respect of public officials and public figures eg the senior officials of major companies, could help.

Such a law would have to ensure that most of the public are protected from the predatory practices that have become common among some sections of the media against people in vulnerable situations.

Recently a House of Commons committee recommended jailing bankers for taking excessive risk.

Should we be hypocrites and have higher standards for local companies than foreign companies operating in Ireland?

While the big tax avoiders claim that they operate in accordance with the law, they are on dodgy ground when it comes to ethics.

As for Irish companies that have the dubious status of being non-tax resident, the official attitude appears to be that they operate in a place that was once called Limbo.

@ Robert Browne

The case of David Begg sums up the dysfunctional system with its limited or no accountability.

To be able to survive as the top trade union leader in the country while attacking bankers for the mess even though he sat 15 years in Dame Street trough boom and bust, takes a brass neck.

It also says so much about the surviving elite.

As for Anglo, until last February, the shuttered rump of a bank was not open for business but had 1,000 staff, 7 executives earning annual salary packages of €500,000+ and 36 other employees being paid more than €200,000. The prime minister of the Netherlands earns €144,000!

@rf touch Clare Daly there,aplos for typos again.
The states is changing,pot is legal almost everywhere,exceptional quality too !
If the states so bad…why are thousands of Irish here illegally and thousands more on temporary visas ?
Are their problems/issues of course it’s not perfect but you are a bit out of touch.
Socially the front page New Yorker outted Bert and Ernie this week,the Irish bankers were taken as they should have been.
Anyone who had worked in FIRE in NY was recorded from day one,including customers which is why I find these “revelations” a bit of a yawn.
I can’t recommend strongly enough a few years in New York to any ambitious young Irish grads it’s truly terrific.


I don’t really think the US is so bad, was just responding to the banana republic thing ; )

Libel laws are a distraction.
The problem is that even when people have done wrong they cannot be called to account
Look at Blankfein in front of the US senate committee.
Bottom line is that money is power. Where individuals are allowed gather a lot of money they end up with a lot of power.
So, I would be against changing the libel laws – it won’t change anything. You can say what you want but nobody can do anything about it

How about an upper house or senate that can… oh, er, wait a minute.

Or a truly independent 4th estate press that doesn’t wilt the moment the DPP…. oh, er, wait a minute.


“If the states so bad…why are thousands of Irish here illegally and thousands more on temporary visas ?”

2 separate issues. A country can have jobs available while being run by people of the moral calibre of Dick Cheney…

@seafoid all I’m saying is that any and every young healthy fit grad should immediately leave that sh*t joke calked Ireland…and eh the republic my hole.
Say hello to your public interest directors
Leave now do not pass go …emigrate .

A question I have asked many people in Kerry is: Why is our government so soft on white collar crime. Dey sez, ah shure Mickey bi doeshnt dey be feerfull dat de incommin guvermint will shaft dem in revenge. Shure ishnt dey all makin a good livin outta da raket dey are runnin now. No need to and it is ditramintal ta pish in our own soup pot. Sure dat dilutes it and makes it taste bad.

In essence it is an inter-party and multi generational game. As long as we get our “fair share” we will continue to condone such behaviour.

The “Fair Trial” ploy is a red herring.

It is used for Jury trials at Jury selection. If not enough untainted jurors can be found then it becomes a trial by judge.
Is the Irish judiciary so incompetent that they cannot separate media prattle from the facts presented in court under the adversarial system. Has our government now put in place a system that makes it impossible to take any white collar case to trial.
Are we all sound asleep and how long has it gone on. Every now and again I get the feeling that things are even worse than I think they are.

@ Kevin Donoghue

If someone set off a bomb in the city centre causing a few miserable millions’ worth of damage we’d have reports about the ongoing investigations and appeals for witnesses to come forward. Why is white-collar crime treated so differently?

Oh, for amnesia. ‘Someone’ did set off no-warning bombs in Dublin city centre (and in Monaghan town), about forty years go, killing many people. No-one was ever charged, and vital evidence was shipped off to the RUC, who no doubt took good care of it.

(‘Someone’ clearly wasn’t the Northern loyalists, who couldn’t light a match by themselves. So who does that leave us with, detonating bombs on the eve of draconian proposed anti-IRA legislation in the Dáil…?)

This Edward Snowden NSA thing is interesting. He might have access to the guarantee phone call records . Maybe Paul Williams could get on to him.

@ Mickey

Every time I watch Pat Spillane I think he’s speaking Irish

After Paul Quigley left me somewhat speechless with his
“government as corporate agency”, I was wondering.

Am I the only “foreigner” coming here, …. ever?

As far as I understand John G has emigrated to the US. several of you are working in english speaking countries, but all Irish origin. True?

Tons of reading in the Sunday papers today.

Colm McCarthy with:

‘Look to the UK and US for how to conduct an inquiry into banks’

“There are four critical areas in which available information is absent or incomplete. These are: the lending behaviour of the individual banks in the years leading up to the bust; the performance of overseers; the policy response from government; and the role played by international bodies, particularly the European Central Bank (ECB).”


Banking with fictional reserves, at a ratio pursued in modern times, is known to be a destructive weapon.

This is and was a national security issue.

Ireland has been under external attack for centuries. Media, political and economic control, make reduction in population inevitable. Romanians and Bulgarians will colonize Ireland. The population should be as dense as in England: 30 Million anyway.

The war is already over, but allowing other nations to understand what is happening may force those in charge to try to make the process less lethal?

How come Norway only has 4 million? Why doesn’t norn irn have 400 people per sq km?

@ francis

Guten Tag

I said:

‘We distinguish between governments, which are corporate agencies, and people, who mostly have to make a living.’

What I was trying to say is that we make a mistake when we try to apply the standards of ordinary morality to the actions of governments. Some state actions are, of course, so egregiously wrong and repulsive that such considerations must be suspended. The issues around the bank bailout do not fall into that sot of category.

We cannot analyse the problems of the Eurozone without reference to the varied governmental structures and political landscapes of the participating countries. These have all evolved differently over the centuries. Libraries are full of their complex, often tragic, histories, and we should respect the painstaking work of he historians.

There are also regional differences within states. I would guess that your own outlook reflects the particular experiences and history of the former DDR, as well as the German people more generally. Everyone is from somewhere, even if we have gone to some lengths to leave that place behind us. As we say in Ireland, ‘you can take the man out of the bog, but you can’t take the bog out of the man’ 🙂

Irish history is, in very large part, the history of a British region. Our economic development took place in that context, and the British link cast a long shadow over our new state. It’s not a matter of blame, but we have difficulty with some economic and political matters which to you seem easy or straightforward. Luckily, we have some compensating advantages, in that we don’t always insist in doing things our way.

Bear in mind also that we have had prolonged armed conflict on the island not so very long ago. The trouble happened mostly in the north, but it made people in the Republic of Ireland also fearful of our security, and so delayed necessary reforms of our state. These reforms include the ending of church control over the basic education system, a task which has not yet been completed.

If you take a look at the 15th c murals in the town hall of Siena, you will see that ‘magnanimity’ is one of the principles of good government. Our political systems is as bust as our banking system. What we need from our German friends, IMHO, is a degree of patience and understanding. The problems of government are ancient, and they will still be around when theirisheconomy.ie is long forgotten.


@ francis

‘Am I the only ‘foreigner’ coming here….ever?’

Looks like you’ve been ‘coming here’ and rattling things up a bit in recent times. Good for you.

Must plead guilty to being ‘of Irish origin’ but not in an English speaking country. So I’m a foreigner here in this country but not ‘here’. Who cares?

Just gave the article by Colm McCarthy in the Indo to my wife, an energy executive here in non English speaking foreignland, to read. She’s not a foreigner here but is a complete foreigner ‘here’ ( on the blog). I told her it was posted by Gavin Kostik, who, I know, is English speaking but not of Irish origin and certainly not a foreigner ‘here’.

Having read the article, my wife said it’s obvious that’s what they ( you English speaking Irish and foreigners in Ireland) should do. A non-parliamentary enquiry with foreign experts or even judges.

Then you’d know what the number one priority reform of Irish ( foreign?) governance should be because it would all come out in the, almost certainly foreign, machine à laver!

Going into the future we could try to regulate banking and weigh up the pros and cons of letting a bank fail etc. or we could make the banking system 100% for ordinary depositors such that it would not matter if a bank/banks fails.

If we ended this two-tier money system in which banks/governments deal with central bank money which is not interchangeable with bank-account-money we would never be in a situation whereby the Government had to get involved in a private company’s liquidity issues.

Obviously our debt problems are caused by the fact that Anglo had the power to create the money it lent in line with debts. But this system is also the cause of so many of our environmental and social problems.

I’ll be speaking at the ‘Austerity without end?’ conference in Trinity in September and I’ll explain our thoughts on the debt crisis in more detail.

If anyone’s interested in attending early bird prices end today and all current information on the conference is available at;


Important to be real here.
Germany has increased electricity generation from coal because its cheap and it supports jobs. It also contributes to climate change.
Is this a scandal yes/no?
Is this on the same moral level as Anglo – yes/no?

@ Kevin

I am Irish. I am offended by the above ‘A very Irish story’. Statements like that, along with ‘That’s so Irish’ etc etc Go a long way to reinforcing the kind of ‘Group think’ fatalist thinking you are presumably against. i.e That poor policy, governance, decisions are inherintly Irish, that they are part of us. They are not.

I was in a shop recently, a gentlemen skipped the Q for the till that I, along with many others was patentiely waiting our turn in. He said he was ‘double parked’. To my annoyance people allowed it. I said from the back, ‘You’re a chancer’, he said ‘Aren’t we all’, I said ‘No, we’re not, just some of us, most of the political class, and a lot their hangers on’ to which he had no reply.

Colm McCarthy’s article today in the Sindo calls for a focused enquiry into the banking fiasco, but I wonder are we again about to shoot ourselves in the foot.
Our reputation has been shredded worldwide this week and what will be the effect of this on decision makers as we seek to reenter bond markets? Any long drawn out enquiry will generate a lot of negative publicity for the foreseeable with unknown consequences for investment etc.
Just wondering.

@PF As I understand you banks would mere agents of the CBI in collecting deposits. Why does CBI need agents? Why should not the only licensed deposit taker be the Post Office? In your world we sure would avoid bank bailouts but deposits would have no positive impact for our economy.

Info headlines that Drummer intended to punch Lenny. It is clear from tape that this was metaphorical. Also if indeed Drummer intended to assault Lenny metaphorically or otherwise, what does this say for Henda’s axis of collusion between Anglo and FF?

As for the new banking resolution regime …..a good article in Der Spiegal on why it won’t work.

Bottom line…
“The test for the new banking rules, as well, will not be passed until they are applied to a major bank in the heart of the EU — not in Cyprus, but in London, Paris or Frankfurt. And even then, they will have to be pushed forward against tremendous pressure from the banking lobby, and despite all the economic risks. Experience to date does not suggest that this will ever happen.”

There has got to be an enquiry along the lines of McCarthy article. People deserve to know who knew what, where and when…even though a lot of that is known already.

BW 11
Plenty of evidence of collusion between Anglo and FF. Lots of golf between Seanie and Cowen plus the dinner with the board on the night he became T. We do not know why BC was allegedly so adamant that Anglo was not nationalised on the famous night (reported in the SBP.

Mr Cormac Lucey has a write up in todays SBP.

“Fight the vested interests”

22:55, 29 June 2013 by Cormac Lucey

Second paragraph…

“A recurring feature of political reaction last week to the Anglo-Irish Bank tapes was heavy Fine Gael criticism of Fianna Fáil for its lax regulation of the banking sector.”

Just as I mentioned previously… this tribalism of political parties is working against the public.


>When you’ve guaranteed somebody’s entire liabilities, it’s smart to write a very small cheque to stop them being called

Drummer was frustrated that Lenihan didn’t understand that.

@ Paul Quigley,

Thanks for the polite reply! I got that apparently a little bit into the wrong throat.

And just for reference, I am a Wessi, just living now for many (>5, to keep it somewhat vague : – ) years in East Germany, after many years in upstate NY, US. I am NOT representing the average Eastern German thinking, more like a global engineer mongrel of many streaks, trying to understand things in general, not wedded to any social, political, local cause.

@ Eureka

Could you be a little bit more specific on the German coal claim (I assume you mean lignite), including specifically how that translates into “more jobs”?

While I do not find the title “a very Irish story” as inappropriate or offensive, I am afraid that it is actually a lot more the “normal states of affairs”, nearly everywhere and everytime, as we would like it to be. That civilization often just runs skin deep.

Thanks for link.
Drummer is coming out fighting and if what he says is correct then…….
“The increasing losses in Anglo Irish Bank’s loan portfolio did not take effect until the effects of the property market collapse and the contraction in the general economy started to be felt in the first half of 2009. This is a matter of record and a matter that has been sworn before the courts.

IBRC, as successor to Anglo Irish Bank, recently provided sworn testimony in the High Court that the bank was solvent in 2009. This begs the question: either the sworn testimony is inaccurate or the sworn testimony was correct and the bank was also solvent in 2008. There has been no attempt to clarify this issue.”

Weren’t we assured that all three banks were solvent.

THe Anglo story has been front page news in all German press this week. The ‘selling the country away’ by cohorts Drumm &Co is compared to Ray Burke’s changes in legislation back in the day which meant that benefits to Ireland from foreign companies extracting were reduced to little or nothing.
[Behind a paywall] http://www.genios.de/presse-archiv/artikel/SZ/20130629/abgezockt/A54887600.html

Reading every German press article on the Anglo Tapes that I can, it seems that there is a sympathy for the Irish people who were ill served by financial custodians and politicians.

Working and living between Ireland and Germany for 30 years now, it’s a dreadful episode. However, it is good that it has come to light. Truth will out.

Apropo emigration: FDP-Chef Rösler sagte heute:
‘Kommt nach Deutschland! Macht eine Ausbildung’ ; Come to Germay we’ll train you : http://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article117567983/Kommt-nach-Deutschland-Macht-eine-Ausbildung.html

On governace : Sat in Buswells for a few hours observing the behaviour of our body politic prior to the IBRC midnight promissory note gig in the Dail. That behaviour and the scenes thereafter say everything about hoe Ireland is run. Until that changes, all bets are off.

While the losses may not have been realised (in an accounting or mental sense) they were there in 2008 when the downturn came clear. By that stage applying the OECD average cyclical data on property prices to the irish data a very very large hole was apparent. If people wanted to see it.

@ Kevin

‘A very Irish story’

I see some objecting to your terminology. Some on the basis of insult to ‘our ‘race’, the fact that ‘race’ has no scientific basis whatsoever notwithstanding! And even among those who purport use it quasi or faux-scientifically (Caucasian, negroid etc.) ‘Irish’ doesn’t figure in the list!

From here in non English-speaking Foreignland I’ve watched Tommy Tiernan on video start one of his routines provoking a huge cheer in response to ‘We’re all fierce proud to be Irish, Right? ‘It means we’re not English’. More pandemonium. And then going through the rest of his shtick on the basis that we haven’t got a clue what it means. Seems to strike a chord!

In a similar quest for state/national/societal consensus on that elusive ‘identity’ ( not behaviour?) issue, Nicolas Sarkozy launched a very expensive ( state funds, of course) and wide-ranging debate on ‘national identity’ in France a while back, even constituting a short-lived government Ministry.

The process, even in a country perhaps unique in its definition and protection of its ‘exception culturelle’, produced NO official consensus whatsoever.

And the Ministry was subsumed into the ‘Ministère de l’Immigration, de l’Intégration, de l’Identité Nationale et du Développement Solidaire’. You should see the letterhead!

Don’t we have serious matters to sort out so that what happened to ‘us’ doesn’t happen again? Goodness knows, the results of what happened were no joke, ‘Irish’ or whatever you want to call it!

@John Foody, Eureka

I don’t accept that there is something unique to Irish people that allows their government to be subverted by powerful interests.

I am Irish. I am offended by the above ‘A very Irish story’. Statements like that, along with ‘That’s so Irish’ etc etc Go a long way to reinforcing the kind of ‘Group think’ fatalist thinking you are presumably against. i.e That poor policy, governance, decisions are inherintly Irish, that they are part of us. They are not.

All I can say is that the pair of you either aren’t Irish, or have been living abroad or under a rock most of your lives.

Ireland has chronic problems with its civil society. This goes back centuries. Many have blamed our social mores, political culture, laws, history, etc, etc. But whatever the cause, this country has a very, very serious corruption problem. It has been the cause of recession, emigration, misery and decline for centuries.

The old line was to blame everything on the British. The new line is the Germans. Personally, I see the British a bit players in a very Irish saga of constant exploitation of the ordinary people by amoral and rapacious networks of elites. (I am Irish by the way, of impeccable bogger pedigree I assure you.)

The elites were all Irish. Sometimes they called themselves Anglo-Irish, or Catholic, or “Atlantic” in an effort to ignore their moral and social responsibility towards their nation and people. But they were Irish all along. The problems and dysfunctional systems they created have lead to the destruction of what should be a successful country many time over.

Irish elites cause the problems. The Irish people suffer the consequences. This is a very Irish problem. It is a problem with our culture, society, laws, and state. To call it “racist” is to run away and hide from the reality of history and of the present. It is a child’s response.

I am Irish. I see these libel laws, and wider issues, as very Irish problems. Indeed uniquely so; I am unable to point towards any other society, past or present, with quite this type of chronic dysfunction, and which yet is apparently unable to realise it has it or has been so successful at denying it.

Perhaps those who see themselves as “Atlantic-ian” or “Donnybrook-ian” or “Gonzaga-ian” see things differently. But since I’ve never been to any of these mindsets or places, I see things the way most most Irish people see them.

@ Francis
You may know more about it than me.
Here’s a link:

And it’s not meant to be an attack on Germany or German people. There is a lot about Germany that I genuinely admire. And that’s that. Your politicians are similar to ours – not better, not worse – just similar.
By the way you are not a foreigner here. Your view points are always welcome. I have disagreed with you many times but I sincerely believe that it is from the furnace of heated debate that we will forge a solid durable Europe that will work for all its people.

@ John Foody
+ 1. I strongly object to it too.

@ Richard
Here’s how it works.
There is a group of people who identify themselves as Irish. Why is this story unique to that group of people. There is no basis for that.

Racism isn’t based on objective races because ultimately people are all the same. Racism is about making statements about groups with which people identify or with which they can be identified. Substitute Jewish in the title and see how it reads. This is a slur on a group of people and I object to it

Fiatluxjnr wrote:

“Our reputation has been shredded worldwide this week and what will be the effect of this on decision makers as we seek to reenter bond markets? Any long drawn out enquiry will generate a lot of negative publicity for the foreseeable with unknown consequences for investment etc”.

What people (and by people, I don’t mean any one particular party, dogma or persuasion, . . . but rather what I mean, are people in the collective sense, or all views, persuasions and tendencies), . . . basically need to comprehend, is that Ireland is going to find itself right back here where we left off with Drumm and the boys, in roughly two decades hence.

That is just an unfortunate fact.

What we have in Ireland, is an episodic saga, much like that of the Alien movie series, whereby the character of Ripley, played by Sigorney Weavey tries desperately to convince people to leave the Alien stranded on the cold, remote, frozen planetary outpost, . . . but inevitably, some guy in the ‘company’, always finds a way to keep one of the Aliens in a jam jar, so it can be preserved for future study, and ultimately transported back to planet earth, so its DNA can be extracted and understood better by scientists.

In a way, that is exactly the situation that existed in Ireland in 2008.

On the one hand, there was something that was un-controllable, and all that one could do was try to leave it behind on its own frozen, planetary back water. And on the other hand, the company wanted to capture it alive, and preserve its DNA for science.

So you have in the series of Alien movies, it is like another famous movie, Ground Hog Day, starring Bill Murray, as Phil Connors, the Pittsburgh TV weatherman who is destined to repeat the same day and experiences again and again. Each time, Sigorney Weavers character encounters more and more strange ways that the Alien, has managed to ‘sneak’ abroad the last departing space barge, and hide somewhere in the lower decks, or in the air conditioning duct work, only to plant itself into some innocent victim, and go on living.

Our president, Michael D. Higgins is quoted in today’s Sunday Independent newspaper, as saying that it doesn’t reflect the truth about Ireland and Irish people. Mr. David Drumm himself, goes on record also today, and reassures us, we have all got the wrong impression.

Perhaps, both of those points of view have some merit.

Perhaps, there is merit also, in quietening things down, so that our little elves in the NTMA, can get along with their important business of getting down our bond yields, and putting the Irish state back on a sustainable borrowing path once more – so that we can recover our economic sovereignty again.

But do recall, in those famous Alien movies, how there was always some period of calm and prosperity, between the various crises, where the little funny looking guys seemed contented inside their little jam jars, and people said, we have this under control. What we probably need is a Ripley type character in Ireland, to remind us from time to time, the kind of beast that we may still have lurking around inside our laboratories.

I’ve endeavored to play a role such as that, as best as I could do and giving my awfully limited platform and resources, at this forum and some others, since the late 2000s. But we’ve reached a ‘tipping point’ at least today, in that for once in the past five years, I was able to open an Irish broadsheet, and read something that made a lot of sense. It means now though for guys like myself, and many more out there and abroad, we can kind of close this chapter and move on with our existences.

I will just quote this paragraph, from journalist John Drennan, because I think that in his various articles today in the Sunday Independent newspaper, Mr. Drennan and many of his colleagues have finally grasped the fundamentals (I only wanted to suggest to the team at Independent News and Media, that they pick up a box set some time, of the movies I have referenced – and well done to all the team of journalists. Anything that happens now, is by the by. The cat is well and truly out of the bag. Finally.

The tapes also display a government obsessed by spin rather than substance, that spent more time planting stories than investigating the wolves that lay hidden within.

Brian O’ Hanlon

I agree with your 3:19pm assessment.

In Kerry they talk about breeds, as in those MacAnaries are a bad breed. The next tier up is race as in those Dublin people are a bad race. The Kerry test for Irishness is to have you read from a paper with the following words:
The others.

If you say dem, dese, doze and dothers you get 100%.

The Irish by and large are quite accepting of foreigners. They pull you into their company and work at marrying you off as quickly as possible. Mind you, it is important that you learn the rules of the Irish game and play accordingly. That being said we have our lunatic ultra nationalists much like all of Europe.

I too believe that we have a flawed culture which is deeply and widely embedded to the point where only a catastrophic economic and societal breakdown will bring about the necessary changes. First step is to realise that there is a problem and it is us, each and every one of us.

I think there’s a problem at times with economists (no this isn’t an anti economist rant) assuming that problems can be solved with ‘better information’, and downplaying distributional, ideological, political factors(politicians do, and will always, want to get elected. Better information wont change that)
So the claims being made by some above (not necessarily in the OP, but some of the following comments) that this is a problem specific to Ireland seems off. This is the way it works everywhere, with varying degrees of difference. Not that reform isn’t worthy and useful, or that better policy making wouldn’t be a positive, but there is no panacea

@ BOH,

Brian, you are most prolific in your use of analogies, 1st and 2nd order cybernetics approach in your writing, ever studied systems?

As for Ripley type characters, I believe there was one (unable to recall her name) in the DoF, who was a “Cassandra”, spoke the truth as she saw it.. and paid the price in terms of “not fitting in” with “the boys”.

Telling people what they want to hear has always been with humanity, and it always will, including greed and the other 6 deadly sins etc.

It’s a bit like various German Generals in Sept 1944 commenting…” Not too worry… we will have better submarines next year”

I think.on balance it’s more of a deeply flawed state than anything else. Ireland’s institutions were not up to running the Euro experiment in a Minsky type breakdown. Booms are so dangerous and this was el gordo. The usual crisis responses- Deny everything, send dissenters to London, Connemara or the nuns, circle the FF wagons – were hopelessly inadequate. There are so many gaps in the protection the legal system affords to citizens. The whole private financial sector was bet on the boom. Why? Very poor standards around accountability. Collapses are abour how to split losses. Ruthlessly exposed.

Ratcheting up of risk in a system that grew on the back of systemic global deregulation . Like that intro from the 80s tv show Hart to Hart. “When they met it was murder”.

It is wonderful that these tapes are making waves in Germany. Others ask the questions their Irish equivalents can’t or won’t. Other than Gavin Kostick who else in the arts world has taken this on?

The people deserve way better. And now over to Con for the sports news.

On the idea that Irelands problems are cultural, well..maybe. But we have to be very careful when defining what we mean by culture. (Commitment to transparency, for example I would imagine, is institutional rather than cultural)
I think the distributional answers (who gets what and why, who influences policy – which are also tied in with historical political development) are more convincing than blanket cries of ‘it’s cultural init’
Also systemic reasons, such as our place in the global economy, which is my own preferred un-expert reason, shouldn’t be ignored

@ Sporthog,

I do own a copy of Gaia, Gregory Bateson and follow Stewart Brand, Kevin Kelly on Google+. I like reading Jay Forrester’s old papers from time and time, and know a good few people in architecture and computer science, who have been influenced by such material. I’m happiest when focused and busy working my brain, on those matters. But I think, what has happened in Ireland since 2008, is that Irish citizens have all got a crash course in economics 101.

I’ll be honest, when I first met Sean Fitzpatrick back in ’08 at the Anglo headquarters, I’d never heard of any other bank in Ireland, except than Allied or BOI. Someone told me, he’s Anglo’s chairman, and I thought what the heck is ‘Anglo’. I was told he was a genius, and an important man, and that was more than good enough for me. I wouldn’t have had a clue what the NTMA did either. That was how simple my world outlook was at that time.

I do recall, my best buddy from my old school days, who was trained as an accountant, told me at some stage in 2008 that there was a recession coming – and my attitude was, I hated him for saying that. He was telling me something I just didn’t care to listen to. As professor Lucey mentioned above, there were holes in balance sheets in ’08, but if someone had shown me the hole, however large, I genuinely would not have wanted to acknowledge it either.

And that’s what the Anglo guys do mention on the tapes also – even after horrendous days of €1.0 billion loses of depositor base – it’s all in the head. What was going on in my head, and that of many at that time, was we didn’t want to know. I remember hating that best friend of mine so much too, in ’08, for mentioning the facts to me. So I can definitely understand how a Ripley, person instead DoF, wouldn’t have been welcome at all.

Maybe we all needed to just grow up a little as Irish men and women, but maybe we’ve all had to grow up a little too fast also. The guys in Anglo, certainly did have a world-weariness about them, a global view, which few others in sections in Irish society did. But look at what has happened since that. We’ve all taken a huge interest in Europe, in the economy and everyone in Irish society has.

That’s why its so refreshing to read a whole new, no-nonsense kind of Irish journalism in the broadsheets of June 2013. And in no small measure, thanks to the efforts of people such as Philip, Karl, Colm, Kevin and many others. They’ve earned their keep in the past few years. BOH.

@ Eureka

Thanks for telling me ‘here’s how it works.’

Here’s how I see it. This man Kevin O’Rourke, (don’t know him, possibly Irish but I think he has some valid views on Irish economic and governance issues) initiates a thread about identifying one key reform to improve Irish Governance. (No mention of ‘Irish’ people). Seems reasonable enough. Even insightful, provocative, and might make contributors crystallise and focus their thinking on institutions governmental, professional, private sector and social in the political and economic entity known as Ireland. Not just by ‘Irish’ people.

Instead of doing a bit of thinking and coming up with a few substantive suggestions, you get up on your high (green!) horse and label the question ‘racist’. Well done.

It’s good to note also that it’s OK for Francis to engage in ‘the furnace of heated debate’ not on the basis of what he has to say but because he’s ‘not a foreigner’.

Bit of conscience examination about your ‘identity’ assumptions, presumptions, projections and a priori wouldn’t go amiss before dismissing what a contributor has, substantively, to say!

@ All



The views of the former DPP, James Hamilton, are of particular interest.

The scenario that will unfold is fairly easy to predict. The legislation will be passed to enable a Dáil inquiry to take place, when established it will create much heat and probably very little light and risk compromising legal proceedings and may, indeed, be halted pending the outcome of particular cases.

In the meantime, the country has improved its ranking – already very respectable – with regard to the ease of doing business. Not a very Irish story, perhaps (a comment which is simply a manner of speaking e.g “I am a stranger here myself”).


N.B. Poor rankings in relation to obtaining construction permits and in relation to enforcing contracts.

@ Richard
It’s not worth getting too bogged down in this. It’s just that the use of the word “Irish” to describe something shambolic or hamfisted is in fact racist.
Imagine, as I said before, if the word Jewish was used instead.

Now I don’t want a big deal made of this. It’s just that its important not to be lazy in our analysis of what has gone wrong in global financial markets, inaction in climate change and brutal wars in the Mideast.
It’s human nature. Human beings are self-serving and shortsighted and always think they’re smarter than they are. Those tendencies of humanity have always been recognised and society has always tried to curb them through religious or social codes. The great problem of the last 30 years is that we forgot that people can be greedy and stupid much more often than they are decent and wise.

It’s not worth getting too bogged down in this. It’s just that the use of the word “Irish” to describe something shambolic or hamfisted is in fact racist.

Nobody used the word in that way. It was used to describe something shambolic, hamfisted, and corrupt in Ireland. It was used because it is Irish leaders who are behind the corruption. It was used by Irish people to describe the behaviour that they are sick of seeing in their own country.

I’m Irish. And I’m happy to describe the chronic, criminal, dyfunctional state we currently possess as “Irish”. Because it is Irish. We cannot deny that. To deny this fact is to allow the problem to continue unresolved forever.

Nations can change their outlook, their fortunes, and themselves, but it requires acceptance of faults and earnest effort at correcting them. This cannot begin until we, as a nation, realise that we have awful, awful leaders and must do something to get rid of them.

In Praise of the Unknown Blogger

For grumpy.

“Known unto NSA”

For he cometh and goeth and none, save the mods, shall know of him.
For he is a he and to speculate otherwise shows thoughtfulness but not understanding of the blogosphere.
For he keepeth his remarks pithy.
For in largeness he is rooted like the oak but in particulars he is flexible like the willow.
For he talks about what he doth know and abhors what he does not know.
For he keepeth faith in the subject of the thread.
For he saith not things which he cannot substantiate in the depths of his understanding.
And his substantiation doth not be that of words placed into search.
Nor in referring to what has happened only this day.

For he does not seek to justify his righteousness in petty contestation for victory in a simple post but considereth the responses of the other in the terms in which they are the strongest.
And he is severe yet polite in his responses.
And where he wishes to ask for understanding he will ask.
And his range of cultural being is rich.
For he doth not post in the interests of others save himself and the greater good.
For he is keen to help where help is sought.
And he respondeth particularly.
For he is well read but not presumptuous.
For he talks but is not garrulous.

And many things do not always simply remind him of but the one thing: yet he can take many things and consider coherency.
For what he giveth is given openly and does not ask for reward.
For he thinketh both of himself and of his fellow people.
For he knoweth that the electronic words he leaves are but tiny particles on a great ocean and yet they mayeth have life.
For he is capable of saying, ‘I was wrong’.
For his contributions enlarge.
For when he is present he is valued and when he is absent he is missed.

@ GK

I fit most of that. Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to honestly say “I was wrong”


‘It’ ( the word Irish or ‘Irish’) was used to describe something shambolic…. and corrupt IN Ireland’ ( OMF). Exactly!

It is indeed ‘not worth getting bogged down in this’….. distraction. Reasonable man!

Just to close off what you raised, Eureka, I’m Irish and ‘Irish’ and could have another nationality should I choose in the short administrative time it takes, and choose not to, but I do NOT have to explain to anyone, Irish, ‘Irish’ or ‘foreign’, what this means. And I live my life on the basis that they will not prejudge what I have to say on the basis of my nationality. If they wish to draw conclusions about what ONE Irishman feels or is like AFTER I’ve spoken or exhibited behaviour, that’s their privilege/problem. Extrapolating from there to what Ireland is like or what should be done to get us out of the sh*t we’re in would be a mistake. Still, they do and I can’t really blame them. We all do.

Let me leave you with a quote from now retired Admiral Mike McMullen, xho may or may not have been ‘Irish’ ( probably like Reagan, Kennedy or Obama to greater or lesser extents):
‘We should worry less about communicating our actions and more about what our actions communicate.’

The weekly dose of depression from Wolfgang Munchau is up


How could it have come to this? It was my reading of the political situation a year ago that a majority in the European Council was quite serious about a proper banking union to be followed by a fiscal union in the future. Germany had yet to be persuaded. Then came the ECB’s celebrated backstop last summer. And that killed it. The politicians no longer saw a need for policies that would be a hard sell back home.
There is a still project with the name of banking union but it will be irrelevant to this crisis. That leaves the ECB. The central bank can do a lot but it cannot fix the banks.

@ Richard
Was good to discuss.
We won’t sort it out. There’s a lot of work to be done. We need a template for living in a globalised world.
Next step military coup in Egypt and then the sunni alliance galvanises against shi’a Iran? And who knows the west might even get Saudi to attack Iran. Then we have a fuel spike and heigh ho – the s**t really hits the fan (again)

I’m with Eureka, if nothing else cultural arguments are lazy and generally little more than poorly connected historical anecdotes and speculation. Sure only 8 years ago we were finding ‘cultural’ reasons for the boom!
And if you accept Irelands current position is the result primarily of ‘cultural’ factors, then you have to hold that standard globally, underdevelopment is the result of culture, not a complex mix of historical accidents, institutions etc the poor are culturally inferior.. so on and so forth
Once again there’s nothing wrong with the argument, but it needs to be backed up with some evidence (or are we in Kevin Myers territory? Not being willing to think past the first link in the chain)

‘Ireland has chronic problems with its civil society. This goes back centuries’
Check out the history books. The Irish were ‘beyond the Pale’, that is, categorised as unfit to participate in civil society. I hesitate to say, we, because, like most people, I haven’t a breeze who my ancestors were beyond a couple of generations. But I know what social exclusion means, and I don’t like it, whatever form it takes.
There was no national consciousness until the econonomic and political conditions allowed for it to be formed. Contrary to your point about ‘Catholic elites’, the Catholic affilkiation was, for centuries, the primary marker of exclusion from civil society.
Why are British sovereigns prohibited from marrying Catholics ? Something to do with Spain perhaps. As the saying went (or should have gone), ‘when Britain sneezes, Ireland catches a cold’. Our dysfunctions are not all of our own doing. O’Connell’s campaign for Catholic emancipation and Davitt’s land League were the foundation stones of our existence as a free people.
This is another crisis of our state. We have had them before and we will have them again. The outcome is undetermined. It’s all to play for, because crisis means opportunity, for those who can read the game. As Pierre Bourdieu says, anyone can see where the ball is, but only the excellent player can feel, in his/her body, where the ball is going to be. How will the hundreds of thousands be (re)employed ?

We have populist politicians, but we don’t have popular democracy. We still have our Pale, and it’s high time we took down the fences which divide us from one another. It’s not for nothing that the US is called the land of opportunity, because despite all its many flaws, the focus in more on what a person can do, then who he or she is. They have a black President, while we don’t have even one traveller TD. If we can fix that sort of thing, we can certainly sort out the banks.

@OMF cc All

Your manifesto is missing something, people need to believe things can change!! Using the term ‘Irish’ in that way is part of the problem. It says that these problems are fixed, inherent and unchangeable to those who claim to be ‘Irish’, and adds to fatalism within Ireland. ‘Ah shure this is Ireland, they’re all at it’ etc

I agree with you, all these problems are solveable, however they are not a characteristic of being Irish. You want the problems you see to change, you believe they can be changed, therefore if they were changed would the term ‘Irish’ become redundant?

‘No I’m an Irelandian now, didn’t you hear, we’re well governed now, no longer ‘Irish’ thank Ch*ist, we were clowns back then’

Your manifesto is missing something, people need to believe things can change!! Using the term ‘Irish’ in that way is part of the problem. It says that these problems are fixed, inherent and unchangeable to those who claim to be ‘Irish’, and adds to fatalism within Ireland. ‘Ah shure this is Ireland, they’re all at it’ etc

I disagree. All I hear, day in day out, is how “mature” and “sophisticated” Ireland and its democracy are. How we are a shining light of openness, democracy, and the rule of law in Western European. Model european citizens, etc.

No. We have deep systemic civic issues about which we are in complete denial. These libels laws are but one example. They are abused by criminals to intimidate those who would expose them. The DPP is perpetuating this criminal culture by pressurising the independent, by saying that it is OK to put the needs of a creaking and amoral legal apparatus before the public good — It is not.

The law, its societies, and the four courts are a massive part of the problem in this country. A massive part. They are tools of abuse, employed by the wealthy to exploit others. Judges are as much a part of the golden circle as the likes of Liam Lawlor. We should recognise such problems, and move to deal with them. Appointing foreign judges and indeed, setting up a new court system altogether, would remove much of the corruption and clientelism from the law here. Same goes for accountants, auditors, bankers and the rest of the professions.

I am not disputing those issues. I am disputing the use of the term ‘.. very Irish’ to describe them, as it suggests that those issues, or some inherent flaw that leads to them, are part of what it is to be Irish. If that’s true, then all Irish people are at fault, and no nation with Irish people in it (eg Ireland) could or will ever be without those issues.

Which is misleading in the fist instance. However, it’s also fatalist, if you believe ‘Irish’ people are fixed this way then you believe nothing can change for them, unless they all unIrish, believing nothing can change isn’t great for governance.

Finally I find it offensive becasue I see a lot of Irish people who give a shit and are working for a better society, and aren’t what you would call ‘…very Irish’, despite being some of the better ‘Irish’. You with me?

@ John Foody

‘…. ‘ very Irish’, despite being some of the better ‘Irish’ You with me?’

Umm! Trying very, very hard but you’re losing me, fast.

I agree with OMF that ‘we have deep systemic issues about which we are are in denial’. I think this is true in a number of countries and states, including this one, France. Which most definitely defines its nationhood and statehood and fast-declining position in the world in ( language and) cultural terms. So it’s not just Irish. Or ‘Irish’.

rf contends that ‘cultural arguments are lazy and generally little more than poorly connected historical anecdotes and speculation. Indeed they can be. And often are. In Ireland and here. As well as food for populist politicians in whose interest it is to obfuscate and divert citizen’s attention away from ugent systemic reform.

Just one critical suggestion for ( the one most likely to change Irish Governance for the better) was the question asked by this post’s originator! Whether it’s Irish or ‘Irish’, French or ‘Français’, foreign or ‘ours’. Or even theirs. I guess!

If there is one thing the Irish know it is that they are Irish. There are no insecurities on that front. Some people take it too far and are reluctant to apply for citizenship and foreign passports for themselves and their children. The returnees who have to re-emigrate in too many cases did not avail themselves of the privileges that were readily available during their last stint abroad. While an EU passport is good an additional one from the old reliables is even better.

It might help things domestically if emigrants had a vote in national elections. Some countries make voting in elections mandatory and threaten to remove citizenship if their citizens abroad do not vote. Brasil is one such country. The millions of Italian emigrants have their own constituencies abroad (4 I believe).

@Mickey Hickey

May I, quite reluctantly, interject the point that more than one million of the Irish who know they’re Irish on our island consider themselves British as well.

Maybe contradictory, probably not, but true ( a ‘fact’) nonetheless!

Now, before it’s too late, what single reform would improve Irish governance?

If, as an Irish citizen ‘abroad’ (geographically but still Irish, or ‘Irish’ or whatever) for well over thirty years, I’d certainly use that vote. Would it change/improve Irish governance systemically? Well it might. It just might at that!

and we have descended into Politics.ie land….time to kill the thread

What I take from that, a day later, is that there has never been some Italian Francesca or French Francois been here around,

and that the Marios from Cyprus recently here was an on invitation exception.

Has any of you been ever to any other european economics blogs?


do you have a link that you have ever complained about any other weapons sale or military intervention of anybody else to anybody else?

In general I think I have to care about my own innocent poor, who do not even take the social minimum, they are entitled to..



There’s no ‘silver bullet’ solution to the problems of Irish governance. But, for what it’s worth, if there was one reform of choice, action to curb the dominance of the executive over parliament might not be the worst place to start. Removal of the ‘whip system’ in the Dail for all parliamentary votes, except those directly relating to the Budget, would potentially act as a catalyst for a more general reform of our political system and its attendant culture.

On the libel laws, I’m not so sure. The current system which we have in place appears to work reasonably well enough and the office of the Press Ombudsman has been a useful and relatively successful innovation. If the Irish Times story on the DPP and the Independent is ‘true’ in substance, it doesn’t appear to have had much of an effect since the Independent has continued to publish excerpts of the tapes in its possession. In the UK, there are ‘D’ notices which, as I understand it, are rarely used and at least in the past mainly related to national security issues. Also, as I understand it, in the past the Irish news media has willingly co-operated with governments of the day in relation to news blackouts on certain crisis issues, in respect of security situations in which lives were immediately at risk etc., and rightly so. In publishing the Anglo tapes, the Indo has, I believe, been very professional and responsible in the way in which they have handled the story, in the best traditions of journalism. In so doing, they have provided a valuable service to the public.

“There’s nothing uniquely Irish about any of this.”
Like others I am astounded by your tortoise reaction. I have lived in a few other countries and we are right up there with the most corrupt of them in how pathetically the population kowtows to the corrupt, the venal, the strokers. All over the country these shysters get reelected time and again despite manifest failings (and more hidden shallownesses).

Lowry, the Flynns, the puck of Kilorglin, Vatman, Serial-Director-of-bankrupted-companies…

We got the regulator we deserved, from the party that invented cute hoorism and continues to vie to be the largest party in the state. The stroke attitude pervades the civil service, the politicians and the banks. The guarantee was an attempt at a massive stroke.

Hiding behind a salt of the earth green jersey is part of the problem. These people don’t get the contempt they deserve because the green wagons circle and hush everything up.

Eureka’s claim that “your statement that this is “a very Irish story” could be seen as racist” could only be true if there were such a thing as an Irish Race, and there is not – common though the phrase may be. The best that could be claimed is that such a statement is anti-Irish, unpatriotic, etc.

However, given that it is Irish people saying this, surely it should be seen as the disappointed reaction of people who have witnessed a greater degree of stupidity, guile, outright deception and lack of accountability than they tend to see in other countries?


I agree ,the judiciary here have failed to hold politicians, juvenile delinquents, bankers, and even ordinary criminals to account. There are two hegemonies in Ireland the political one and the legal one.

Everything, including all state sponsored corruption operates with in the current parameters of the fatally flawed judicial and legal system. The tribunals were a tawdry toothless money making escapade. Regarding the said parameters and impediments to corruption? Theye are non existent. I am sorry to say, but like yourself, I know that the whole thing is unfit for purpose.

I used to say that our problems were political then economic now I say they are legal, political and finally economic.

@ Veronica

The libel laws are not particularly relevant in this context.

I recommend listening to the tape of the interview with the previous DPP linked to above. He deals in detail with all the pertinent legal aspects, including the dilemma of the DPP in the matter of intervening with regard to press coverage i.e. doing so might in practice, lend credence to a defence case that the right to a fair trial might have been compromised.

Irrespective of the type of enquiry being held, it may have to halt its deliberations once criminal trials have begun.

The major wrong turn took place, as I have pointed out on numerous occasions, when the distinction between the duties of politicians and those of senior public servants were blurred in the current legislation. The legislation is being largely ignored in practice (apart from the mechanical production of “strategy statements”, accompanied by “mission” statements and “vision” statements, in lavishly illustrated brochures). But that is not the answer.

There is no impediment to politicians of all parties addressing the inadequacies of the current structures. They do not want to do so because they made common cause in introducing them. The reasons are evident. Responsibility is so blurred that no one is responsible. And the moral hazard associated with linking the salaries of those charged with dispensing public money with those charged with raising it from the taxpayer is so obvious as to hardly require explanation.

What is most striking in the recent coverage is how the media both in Germany and Ireland have bought into the Merkel “narrative” with regard to “solidarity” i.e. a kind of exercise in charity. Such an analysis would be fatal to the European project if countries bought into it at a political level. It is a question of collective responsibility for the proper implementation of economic and monetary union to which all member states have signed up and the successful running of a single currency to which 18 are currently committed.

The Anglo tapes are a godsend to Merkel and the CDU/CSU only weeks away from the federal elections. They will milk it for all they are worth.

cf. the FAZ coverage


When it comes to “elites”, every country has them. Ireland is unique in having one that is fully documented – and publicly sanctioned to the extent that it is hardly remarked upon – on the “official” side. It includes the universities. It is time that at least this element was subjected to critical examination and something better arrived at.

N.B. Google Translate is only approximate in its computer generated translations.

“the Indo has, I believe, been very professional and responsible in the way in which they have handled the story,”

I think this can only be judged if you have heard all the tapes. The refusal by the Indo’s correspondent to tell Vincent Brown how long they had the tapes raises my suspicions.

David Drumm call for complete disclosure of tapes and documents seems to me the way to go.

Nearly 5yrs post guarantee, is there only 3 peeps on charges? Seems a little low.

I remember the gardai raiding Anglo, were similar raids made on the other banks? It’s lucky all our ministers, civil servants and central bankers were squeaky clean – though it would have been nice if someone had made notes.


Agreed, the libel laws have nothing to do with it – I only referred to them in the context of Kevin’s original post and his suggestion that it might be worth reforming them. As it happens, I’m not persuaded of that point of view. The innovations required in this area are to how to further open up access to redress to people whose rights to privacy or ‘good name’/reputation are abused in the media, irrespective of their public ‘position’. An ordinary citizen would need pretty deep pockets to go to court in that pursuit, which is why establishment of the office of the press ombudsman has been a positive development.

There’s much food for thought in your analysis of the division of responsibilities between the political executive and the permanent government, but then nobody gets too excited about the problems in that area, do they? I guess because it’s about process rather than personalities?


The Indo owns the copyright on whatever extracts they choose to publish and the responsibilities that go along with that. How long they may, or may not, have held the tapes is irrelevant and people inferring some kind of political ‘agenda’ on that basis are shooting pretty wide of the mark.

@ Veronica

If we do not keep the debate about process and not personalities, we will never get anywhere IMHO.

I wonder if Trichet could be compelled to attend the Dáil committee when it is established to prove the ECB’s “innocence”.

@ Brian Lucey

Your „Das Ausland muss Druck machen, aus eigener Initiative wird Irland den Anglo-Skandal auch in Zukunft nicht vollständig aufarbeiten“ in the FAZ is not good enough.

To demand „charge“ or „The Germans to the Front“ and to complain a few months later that the Germans are infringing on your sovereignity.

It is your country, it is your fight, and of all people it is the holy duty of the tenured people to lead the charge.

It is up to Irish people like you to carry the banner into battle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQQ9ySdQ5Qs from 8:00 on) and shout “Follow me” and to decide

whether Ireland is a sovereign nation of free men or a territory filled with subjects of the Anglo Crown.

Germany can only be a support of what has to be an Irish led, Irish manned movement of the Irish people saving YOUR nation from the filth.

It is your country, it is your fight, and of all people it is the holy duty of the tenured people to lead the charge.

Amen! Time to leave the euro, print punts, wind up the banks, and move on.

Just what the Indo’s agenda is in its selective release of the tapes, other than selling newspapers, we will only be sure of when all the tapes are released and we judge for ourselves. It may be altruistic but it is unlikely to be value free. Unfortunately we may never be allowed this privilege and will have to depend on the Indo’s good intentions.

I thought it quite strange for the Indo to refuse to answer such a straight forward question as to when they received the tapes. From reports VB was upset to be refused this seemingly unimportant information. Perhaps you could give a reason why the Indo might wish to withhold this information?


How can you go from thinking there’s something inherent in our Irishness that caused this crisis, and then want to leave the Euro and go it alone?!


Well, whatever about the one Governance reform sought in this thread, you certainly proved your point about the absence of Francescas and François’s on ‘here’.

No doubt about it, ‘we’re’ certainly some ( green?) tulips! Or is that ‘racist’?

The Independent makes its living selling advertising in the newspaper. The more readers it attracts the more advertising revenue it brings in. The tapes were a most welcome boost to circulation. The person that leaked the tapes may have been altruistic or jockeying for personal advantage.

The Gov’t has been embarrassed and will now put resources into stopping further leaks and intimidating the media by using the DPP and the “Fair Trial” ploy. There is little doubt but that they will continue to drag their feet and display a distinct lack of enthusiasm for bringing white collar criminals to justice.

The damage done to Ireland in Germany is directed at the Irish government and the banksters. The Irish taxpayers are footing 100% of the cost of ensuring that losses attributed to Irish banks are made good by the Irish Gov’t (taxpayers). Public opinion in Germany will now make it difficult for any German Gov’t to support any initiative to prop up Ireland either directly or indirectly through the ECB, EMU or related agencies. It will have knock on effects on the rest of the PIIGS since it feeds into popular perception that their governments are incompetent otherwise they would not be in their present predicament.

As to Deutschland Uber Alles it was written originally by Hoffmann von Fallersleben (1798-1874) with the emphasis on love of country along the lines Mna na hEireann, Mother Machree, Mother Russia. Sure it would bring tears to your eyes. We all know that the Nazis perverted the national anthem (since 1871) and the age old sacred Hindu icon, the swastika.

The Anglo boys understood all this and were using it as a love poem in honour of Germany. They knew the Irish taxpayers were making good on the loans and the German inflow of funds would buy them a few more months at the trough.

PR guy, get to work on the message before all is lost.

@Mickey Hickey
The euro crisis is at bay for the moment but will be back at some stage. If needs must, Bild can get the Volk on message. Doing whatever it takes might even involve piggy debt writedowns. The crisis will run for the next 10 years at least and there will be many twists and turns on the road to normal. I dunno if these tapes are game changers. Probably not.

“The protection of journalistic sources is one of the basic conditions for press freedom. Without such protection, sources may be deterred from assisting the press in informing the public on matters of public interest. As a result the vital public-watchdog role of the press may be undermined, and the ability of the press to provide accurate and reliable information be adversely affected. An order of source disclosure … cannot be compatible with Article 10 unless it is justified by an overriding requirement in the public interest.”’

The freedom of the Fourth Estate was hard won, but it is not really as secure as it looks these days. The Indo is part of a private sector media empire, which is the dominant form of mainstream news-mongering in today’s world. As I understand Leveson, the business model has very little to do with democracy, and everything to do with market dominance.

Information is something you buy, for strategic reasons, and/or because you can sell it to the public. One of the less respectable reasons why sources are protected is that bribery has been involved. IMHO, media barons represent exactly the same sort of threat as bankers, and as my mate Gar says, ‘send in the sniffer dogs first’. .

@ Brian Woods II

I’m suggesting we should nationalise money, but not banking. The CBI should create all euros but cash and digital.

From there banks should deal with existing money only, we wouldn’t delete money ever and so we’d have a more permanent money supply which would help with financial crises.

I’m not suggesting the CBI should be the only deposit taking institution because they’d have a monopoly on interest rates.

Competition between banks would keep interest rates competitive.

I don’t understand how you feel deposits would have no positive impact on the economy? The amount of money in the economy would be adjusted to meet the demand for trading…

@ Paul Ferguson

I am clearly misunderstanding you. But if all deposits must be backed by CB money how can there possibly be a competition on rates. The only differentiating factor between retail banks would be expenses of admin, the PO could undercut them all.

If deposits must be backed by CB money how can they support the economy? I really don’t understand your argument. It is either extremely erudite or it is in error. The fact that no economy in the world be it capitalist or communist follows your argument is circumstantial evidence at least that you are in error.

@ Brian, Paul Quigley,

This IT column makes the point more eloquently than I ever could.


‘Watchdog of the public interest’ is only one of the roles of media in our society and unfortunately, an ever diminishing one because of the financial straits in which the traditional newspaper model finds itself all over the world and which threaten its very survival as a media form. If the model can’t be made to turn a ‘profit’ then inevitably it will die, and with it a tradition of standards and provenance in news reporting which is key to the functioning of any democratic society.

Establishing and verifying facts is a hugely time-consuming and expensive process. The pressure is on the journalists to establish the case for publication ‘in the public interest’, especially of hugely politically sensitive stories which could literally bankrupt their organisation, financially and in terms of credibility, if they get even the smallest detail wrong.

So to answer your question directly: there are all sorts of reasons why the Indo political editor, Fionnan Sheehan, may have refused to answer the question as to how long his newspaper had the tapes prior to publication, not least the protection of sources. Brown’s question was wholly impertinent – and irrelevant – in the context of the tapes story. The issue of newspaper ownership/dominance – which appeared to underly the question – is one that is more properly directed towards the government of the day and its operation of media policy in this state.

Thank you for the link to the IT article by Jim Carroll.
” As for the sources, I think that will come out in the very near future” intriguing comment from Jim Carroll.

The Indo bemoaned the fact that nobody gave a hoot about the Lowry tapes. If they had actually published the tapes they would have had much more effect. Nothing like listening to the Great and the Good actually effing and blinding to open your eyes.

The Indo overplayed the “I’ll punch Lenny” angle. It was clearly a metaphorical reference but nicely allowed Tweedle Fail to counter Tweedle Gael’s “nexus of evil” or whatever they were asserting.


Yes Brian, it probably will and as there is more than one (obvious) possibility, it would be fun to speculate. But that would be meaningless at this stage and only distracts from the import of what has been revealed which is what we should be focussed on. Personally, I hope the sources of the Indo story are never revealed because that creates a risk that their lives, and careers, will be ruined; just adding to the carnage of the ‘innocent’ in this debacle.

I’m bemused, to say the least, by the way in which various elite figures in both politics and the media have sought to frame the tapes story to suit their own agenda. Politics may be hypocrisy dressed up as respectability, but the depth of hypocrisy displayed in this instance is breathtaking. The problem for the government – who hold all the cards because that is the way our system works from one election to the next – is that the ‘economic voter’ may be none too enthralled to see their friends and neighbours lose their family homes to repossession over the coming months because of the political failure to face up to the personal indebtedness crisis other than writing the script for personal debt resolution in the bankers’ favour. And then they’ll think about those tapes…

The eurozone is a group of seventeen countries with a combined
population of three hundred and thirty million citizens. All member
countries have the same currency,the same central bank,the same
interest rates and the same commercial property lease law except one,Ireland.
Ireland has very different commercial property lease law to all other eurozone
countries. The three components of all countries commercial lease law
is the length of the lease,the rent determintion process and lease exit
strategies/break clauses. In all other eurozone countries lease lengths
are short,say three to ten years,with break clauses and rents are
indexed annually to changes in the consumer price index. In Ireland
lease lengths are long,say thirty five years,with no break clauses and
rents are reviewed every five years using the ratchet upward-only rent
review process. This review process used the highest rent as evidence
against all tenants and was open to malpractice and corruption.

Irish commercial property lease law was a twinheaded monster which incentivised
the over-renting of tenants and more damaging,it was the rocket fuel
for the commercial property valuation model which created the monster
commercial property bubble. When this bubble burst it destroyed the
entire Irish banking sector. Reckless Irish banks lent tens of billions
against these ruinous leases,not against the properties themselves. If Ireland
had had regular eurozone commercial property lease law it would have been almost
impossible to have had a commercial property bubble.
The only reason Ireland had this feudal lease law was because the corrupt
Irish politicians organised sovereign leases for their bagmen. All
Haughey’s bagmen are sovereign landlords

I gave some thought to how the landlords who number less than the small business renters could have bought rent law made in heaven from the landlord’s perspective. The answer is that the money outweighed the lost votes.

The distortions built up on all fronts which have accumulated since 1922 are leading to a collapse of the state.

Looking at the comment section on the audio tapes in the Independent I am struck by the number of comments relating the leak to causing damage to FF at the beginning of the election campaign (2 yrs). In any other country FF would be toast, never to be heard of again. FG because of its inaction since it was elected would join them at the next election. We might as well get ready for the replay, may God help us.

How in god’s name has it taken five years.

If it could not have been done faster we need to look at fundamental reform of the legal process – root and branch reform – to change the the speed and difficulty with which prosecutions can be brought.

If it could have been one quicker then we have to name names and make it clear why and how it took so long.

we need a f**king inquiry into the investigation/inquiry!

@ Mickey Hickey

Are you sure? A lot of FF voters did very well out of the Celtic Tiger bubble and they have not gone away, you know! Nor have the FG voters in similar circumstances.

The Portuguese government seems on the verge of collapse as the foreign minister has now also resigned. The FT coverage has this very neat encapsulation of the dilemma faced by countries in the euro area whose credit has run out.

“In the wake of the dual resignations, the centre-left Socialists, the main opposition party, have stepped up their calls for early elections. They, like many in Portugal, want to ease austerity by renegotiating the adjustment programme.

Others question how far this is feasible. “People in government and the opposition talk about austerity and the bailout without really addressing the alternatives,” said Pedro Santa-Clara, a professor of finance at Lisbon’s Universidade Nova.

“The only real alternatives are to co-operate with your creditors in applying the bailout, as Mr Gaspar did, or to default. The fact that something is painful does not mean that the alternative is not even more painful.”

That’s about it! Luckily, the Irish economy is that much stronger and in a better position to allow those currently in charge to give the right answer.

@ veronica

From the IT article you reference:

‘‘The sad fact, though, is that most papers and media organisations just can’t afford to and won’t invest anymore in the time, patience and resources needed to dig these stories out’

If this story was dug out, perhaps it was dug out with a golden, career changing, shovel. I don’t say that this happened, merely that the organisation has the necessary resources to do that sort of thing. That doesn’t change the substantive content, but it puts the affair into its proper business context. The other possibility, I suppose, is that some malcontent in the statutory sector wanted to see the matter exposed, and just gave the Indo first dibs. I am sure there are other possible scenarios.

Browne was not in the least impertinent, whatever that means these days. The Indo is hardly some sort of vulnerable, imperilled, bastion of democracy. It was up to its neck in the bubble, and it has been a proud bearer of the conspicuous consumption/celebrity culture which confuses and disorients so many of our people. It’s not that he IT was great in that regard, it’s just that the Indo was, IMHO, more obviously mercenary and shameless.

Our nationalised banks have recently forgiven some of the debt of the paper’s parent group, so the reality is that we are keeping it alive. The Indo wants to be seen to act ‘responsibly’, but only if the story sells. I listened to the MF show. The due diligence required to verify the tapes was nothing special, and most of the work was in putting on the legal brass trousers, both in terms of avoiding a libel action, and also in being seen to respect the current legal proceedings.

There are lots of cosy ‘how shocking’ chats among the elite. That’s how it has always been. IMHO, the average citizen does well to put all, or at least most, of their comfortable commentary in parentheses. So, the story is a good one, but the undisclosed methods used in unearthing it are as important as any other part of the tale.

Governance pre-crash = Governance post-crash; statsig******************

One reform ….. hmmm? Just one reform ….hmmm? Only one teeny weeny reform …. hmmmm?

One won’t do it. The system of upper_echelon un_accountability is dense, protected by the legal system, and powerful. Hence, the entire system needs to be brought down …. and then re_built. Revolution anysupines?

Looking at my little world the losers out number the beneficiaries by 30 to 1. The closest case to me involved a sale of land with planning permission for 64 standalone houses. Closed in the fall of 2007, the developer went from visiting construction in a Mercedes to cutting the overgrown grass himself by 2010 at which time he disappeared. Even the winners lost. Most of the construction workers are abroad or on benefits in Ireland.

@David O’Donnell

You make a lot of sense. Particularly wrt respect to the legal system being neutered.

@ Mickey Hickey

Any idea how much the developer paid for the site? It should interest everyone as the seller still has the cash while the taxpayer, in all likelihood, is left holding the baby for the write-down in the associated bank debt.

Winners and losers there certainly are! In a local context, the losers may seem to outnumber the winners by the factor that you suggest. But the rise in private wealth as reflected in the most recent statistics and the holding steady, indeed slight increase, in taxation revenues, suggest that this is not true for the economy as a whole.

Those who did well on the carousel last time round sense that it is starting up again. Hence the return to popularity of the carnival barkers.


Euro 1.3 million

There were capital gains taxes and the usual planning permission and campaign contributions. All perfectly normal in Ireland.

It might be tempting to stick it to the sellers who sold in good faith to developers who expected to make a good profit. Both were operating under conditions imposed by the government, who were rewarding development while destroying manufacturing jobs. We then became a two trick pony, development and low corporate taxes. Unfortunately the development trick stopped working and the low corporate tax trick is in grave danger. We will finish up with a level playing field devoid of tricks. The level playing field was always our hearts desire but being the chancers we are when we got it we had to find an easy way out. The easy way out led to ruin.

@ Mickey Hickey

All very true! But who elected the government(s) in question against a background of politicians trying to out oubid one another on a broad range of policies unthinkingly accepted as a “good thing”?

All adults of voting age with the individual responsibility to inform themselves on the worth of the policies being proposed.

As the successful running of the Irish presidency demonstrates, we have the capacity to act when others are setting the agenda. We seem incapable of setting one for ourselves.

@Mickey Hickey

Ta. One could make the entirely plausible arguement that the Irish Legal System is designed to keep the plebs in order and the upper_echelons in clover.

Witness the ‘nuke’ lobbed in by the poltroon of eight AGs to prevent the mere notion that such AGs might appear before an Oireachtas Committee with teeth! and … er … (shhhh) NAME_NAMES.

Deputy Doherty asks,

“Why did the new board of Anglo/IBRC, not inform the government, . . . or more importantly, the Central bank who were regulating them [Anglo/IBRC was not a private institution by that stage, but was a fully state owned entity], . . . there was an expectation by the public, the management was swept out, public interest directors were put in [Mr. Dukes alone was being paid over €100k salary per annum for his role as such], . . . and it is very now that a court order was issue for recordings of 18 senior Anglo Irish personnel [But the central bank is very clear, that it was not even aware of the existence of tapes, nor did it require the bank for its part, to make any recordings]”.

@Brian O’Hanlon

As I have mentioned many times before – there is not such animal as ‘public interest director’ in Irish Corporate Law.

The term is a PR spin and has no legal legitimacy whatsoever.

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