When I awoke on Saturday morning I had no idea that I was about to be transported to another planet. But that’s exactly what happened when I tuned into the Marian Finucane Show and was whisked off to planet Duffy by the soon to retire chief executive of Bank of Scotland Ireland, Mark Duffy.
First a little background before lift off. According to Duffy he first became interested in banking when he was introduced to the lovely house and cars belonging to the daddy of a former girlfriend. He stressed, however, that he is not interested in nor motivated by money.
Duffy started off his banking career with Sean Fitzpatrick a man for whom he still has great respect although he did concede that Seanie had created a bit of a problem.
Throughout the interview Duffy repeatedly informed the nation that there is only one solution to the present crisis – take the bad apples out of the barrel and move on. By bad apples he means, primarily, the bad debt in the system. He didn’t specify who should take responsibility for all this bad debt but we can guess.
Here’s a synopsis of reality on planet Duffy. (My translations are in brackets so that ordinary earthlings can understand the language of planet Duffy).
“It really appalls me as a proud Irishman who has committed his life here to actually see how the outside world views us at present; we have to stop. The banks are us and if we inflict pain on the banks we’re actually inflicting pain on Ireland.”
(Keep quiet, don’t rock the boat, pretend nothing happened, move on).
“Everybody needs a hate figure, the banks are a suitable hate figure; Sean Fitzpatrick is a suitable hate figure; we’ve got to move on.”
(Neither the banks nor Sean Fitzpatrick did anything wrong, they just happen to be a random target selected by the public to vent their anger for some perceived but as yet unknown wrong).
“The bankers have taken a terrible punishment from the media.”
“In Ireland we have only a small number of people (capable of running the banks); it takes years to get the skills to actually operate at that level.
If we take them out and shoot them (we wish) or have bank policy decided by chat shows and the media we’re going to lose some critical talent going forward.”
(A year in Mountjoy is more than enough to provide the skills and habits necessary to run Irish banks as they have been over the past several decades).
“I asked my own press office to put together the amount of media, radio and TV comment on it and it is just enormous. We are making ourselves the laughing stock, we need to move on.”
(It says a lot about Duffy that he would actually ask his press office to make such a list. Again, the ‘laughing stock’ comment is the usual denial – ‘let’s all pretend that there was no corruption involved in case the international community finds out the truth about Ireland’).
“We don’t have a toxic debt problem in Ireland, what we have is a property problem.” “The downturn won’t last long, not the five or ten years of the doom and gloom merchants.”
(What?? And this man is paid millions for, as he says above, his very rare ‘skills’).
On his reasons for leaving the bank. (No, really, he’s serious).
“I can do no more in the bank; I want a bit of time out, bit of free time with my family. It’s been a hectic 16 years, I’ve worked very hard, 130 flights a year; it takes its toll…I’m a hands on manager, I get my hands dirty, I’m a people’s person. You’ve got to set standards, honesty and service is what people are going to be looking for going forward.”
(If the word ‘bank’ is taken out of this quote and replaced with ‘church’ or ‘charity’ you could be forgiven for thinking that this man is a priest working for the poorest of the poor).
At this point we returned to earth when Marian said there was a whole stream of very angry listeners calling in but it wasn’t long before we were back on planet Duffy
“We understand that, people are venting anger, we need to fix the problem and move on. I mean bank staff are being spat at and abused verbally and physically. People have a generic across the board anger that they’re venting at present.
I can understand that but we’ve got to move on…I’ve lost money, my family have lost money, we’ve all lost money as a society but we’ve got to move on.”
(Hands up all those who believe that he and his family lost money – thought so. And we can be sure that this man is safely removed from all this public venting of anger).
“There’s a difference between the UK and Ireland. I’m sure they’ve got the same level of scandal but they don’t wash their dirty linen in public. They’re getting on with solving the problems…hurting banks ultimately hurts us all, we’ve got to move on.”
(Again, denial and insulting waffle).
On being asked does he still trust the banks? “I’d put my money in Anglo.” (Yeah, right).
Back on earth a listener called in to the show.
“I have lost my job, my pension, my bank shares and my home is worth 50% less than it was last year. I don’t qualify for dole because of some cash savings that I have, I have to feed my kids and pay my mortgage.
If it was up to me, he, and other bankers, would be going to jail and not into the sunset waving goodbye to us suckers. We want our pound of flesh and we want blood.”
(Clearly, Duffy, not used to hearing about the brutal reality created by his type, hesitated before answering as he struggled to say something different, anything to avoid repeating the waffle he had spouted so far – he failed).
“Well, you know, again, that’s a very, very angry comment and I can understand that. I don’t agree with a lot of what she said but I can understand. People are just not differentiating between bankers and banks (what?). It’s just a generic problem…we’ve got to move on.”
Meanwhile, back on planet Duffy. Marian asked: Did you get a massive handshake?
“You can ask but I won’t tell you, Duffy coyly replied. I was extremely well treated by the bank after 16 years and I leave it very happy, very satisfied and I’m looking forward to my freedom.”
(Ah yes, his freedom, his wealth, his happiness, his satisfaction – the complete opposite of what faces the many victims of the banking sector).
Marian asked him would he be worried about the groceries.
“I’m not financially motivated; I’ve always being lucky with money. I have bills to pay and a salary helps with that.”