The astronomer was explaining to his audience that the earth would be destroyed in 4.5 billion years time when the sun explodes.
A lady, shocked to hear this news, checked with the astronomer. Did you say the earth would be destroyed in 4.5 million years?
No, replied the astronomer, 4.5 billion. Oh, said the lady, sitting down, that’s a relief.
The same logic can be applied to the Central Bank scandal where, apparently, everybody was relieved to learn that 52 spouses of staff had gone on 71 trips over two years and not, as was first thought, altogether on one trip.
I can see this ‘trick’ being enthusiastically taken up by politicians and officials as the ultimate red herring. Politician X, discovered to have defrauded the taxpayer of €50,000, will be off the hook when it’s learned that the fraud was only €49.000.
The official reaction to the Central Bank scandal makes one thing clear, nothing has changed.
The new Governor, Patrick Honohan, on first taking up his post naively expressed puzzlement at how banks could have been so reckless and called for an inquiry; he wanted to get at the truth.
Clearly, this unprecedented attempt to bring accountability to a corrupt banking system sent shock waves throughout financial and political circles.
There must, therefore, have been great relief when Honohan’s response to the expenses scandal clearly demonstrated that he had quickly learned how to work the system.
I knew nothing about this, I’m not responsible but I have put a stop to the practice and then, in traditional Irish style, he pulled down the shutters.
Was former governor John Hurley accompanied by his wife on a taxpayer funded trip to a symposium in the Rocky mountain ski resort of Jackson Hole? – Not telling you.
Was former governor John Hurley accompanied by his wife on a trip to Cape Town in 2007? – Not telling you.
Was former governor John Hurley accompanied by his wife on a trip to Paris in 2006? – Not telling you.
What about details on a number of foreign trips taken by senior officials in 2007/08? – Not telling you.
Yes, Mr. Honohan is well and truly integrated into the Irish system of secrecy and non accountability.
We’ll hear no more calls for investigation from this man.