Irish Independent does not approve of new ECB headquarters

The editor of the Irish Independent is not happy that the European Central Bank (ECB) is forking out €1.3 billion on a new headquarters.

I wonder has the editor said anything about the €147 million (probably €247 after all the nods and winks have been paid for) being forked out by our own Central Bank on its new headquarters which will include a seventh-floor cafe with an outdoor terrace where staff can enjoy stunning views of the river Liffey.

Just asking.

Independent Newspapers sensationally outs the real culprit for our economic collapse

An editorial in today’s Irish Independent unreservedly condemns the recent riots triggered by some anti-austerity protesters trying to blockade the opening ceremony for the new European Central Bank’s (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt.

It is noteworthy however, that the editor sees the riots as secondary to the behaviour of the ECB towards Ireland.

The editor sensationally outs the real culprit for our downfall in 2008.

The design and implementation of the euro was at fault, in that it led to a one-interest-rate-fits-all scenario. This led to a dramatic fall in interest rates in Ireland and builders and bankers indulged in a spending spree that resulted in us buying and selling property to each other at ever spiraling prices.

Well feck it anyway. There was I thinking that the economic collapse was caused by our corrupt political system ‘looking after’ property developers and making sure there was absolutely no financial regulation to halt the greed and criminality within the financial sector.

And while I was digesting the dramatic news that the nasty Euro was to blame for all our problems I was struck by the difference in opinion by Independent Newspapers to the major and very violent riots in Frankfurt and the timid (by comparison) treatment of Joan Burton in Jobstown.

The ‘sinister’, ‘terrorist’, ‘Trotskyite’ behaviour of the ‘mob’ at Jobstown threatened to bring down the state, the sky was falling in, Apocalypse was upon the nation according to Independent Newspapers and other mainstream media.

But then, silly me, I realised the real thinking behind the editorial – Blame, blame, blame.

Whatever you do, never admit the truth, never admit that Ireland is a failed state, never admit that our political/administrative system is corrupt and beyond reform, always blame somebody else.

Blame Lehman Brothers, the EU, the Brits, the penguins in Antarctica but never… ever… blame the real culprits.

Economist Dan O’Brien: A seriously confused man

Economist Dan O’Brien is a seriously confused man.

On the one hand he believes Ireland is heading toward a state of ungovernability because of a very serious lack of trust in institutions like government, business, media and NGOs.

There is no other country among the 27 covered in the world-wide survey in which people have less trust in their nation’s politics and civil society institutions.

On the other hand O’Brien is adamant that such institutions are no worse than similar institutions in other countries.

While Irish media, NGOs and businesses have all been guilty of wrongdoing – and it is easy to find examples where each has undermined trust – I simply do not believe that they are all to be distrusted more than their counterparts in almost every other country.

O’Brien was responding to the findings of a world-wide poll taken by a public relations firm late last year which – he concludes;

Suggests that something is seriously awry in Irish society. And not just among those who feel excluded.

And this is where O’Brien is confused.

On the one hand Ireland is no worse than any other country while on the other there is something seriously awry in how our country is governed.

If O’Brien follows the logic of his own thinking then all 27 countries polled are suffering from serious flaws in how they are governed. This, I’m sure he would agree, is not the case.

So why is Ireland different, what is seriously awry in how we are governed?

The answer is as simple as it is stark – Ireland is an intrinsically corrupt state.

Like all countries Ireland has always suffered from a degree of corruption but this all changed in 1979 when the criminal politician Haughey came to power. His corrupting influence infected every level of Irish society but in particular, his corrupt activities transformed the political and financial sectors into little more than co-operating mafia outfits.

It is these two corrupt pillars of Irish society that are directly responsible for the catastrophe that occurred in 2008. Nothing whatsoever has changed since then. The same corrupt political system is still in power, the same financial sector is as corrupt as ever and the same so called regulatory agencies continue to look on with approval.

The Irish people have lost trust in the political system because that system has betrayed them time after time. This is not just opinion, the facts speak for themselves.

In the run up to the 1992 general election the leader of the Labour Party Dick Spring adopted a very strong anti-corruption stance going so far as to accurately describe Haughey as a cancer on the body politic. But once elected, Spring promptly betrayed the trust of the people by abandoning his principles and joining forces with the cancerous Haughey.

Similarly the Progressive Democrats, a party that came into existence in response to Haughey’s corruption, also abandoned their integrity and principles in exchange for power and influence. Once again the people were betrayed.

Then we had the Green Party, full of laudable principles while in opposition but once in government they too abandoned their political integrity in exchange for the benefits of power.

The complete absence of political courage, vision or integrity within the body politic led to the evolvement of a culture where financial institutions, property developers, the legal system and practically every other individual, group or organisation with access to political favour were allowed to indulge in serious criminal activity with total impunity.

The inevitable catastrophe came to pass in 2008 when the whole system collapsed under the sheer weight of its own putrid rottenness.

The 2011 election was the last desperate attempt by the Irish electorate to elect a decent, accountable government but once again their desperate pleas for honest and courageous political leadership was thrown back in their faces.

Rampant political corruption is the reason Irish citizens have lost trust in the political system. Rampant political corruption lies at the heart of all our problems.

Mr. O’Brien is confused because he simply cannot bring himself to believe that reality.

Sadly, for Irish citizens such denial from influential opinion makers will only serve to protect and encourage the corrupt and prolong Ireland’s agony.

Copy to:
Dan O’Brien

Vincent Browne: Captured by the bankers

US banking expert Professor Bill Black recently gave evidence at the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry where he pulled no punches.

He effectively stated, correctly, that at the time, Ireland was a country without a financial regulator, governed by a bunch of morons.

Later he appeared on the Tonight with Vincent Browne show where we witnessed a perfect example of the mindset that makes it possible for our country to be governed minus a financial regulator and led by a bunch of morons.

Professor Black was telling us (correctly) that the bankers were lying about the state of their finances in the run-up to the crisis.

Vincent Browne took great exception to this smear on the reputation of bankers.

Wait a minute now, this is quite serious, the insinuation on the bankers who went to see the Government that night is very serious, and I know some of them, and I don’t believe they said something they knew was untrue.

Yes, you heard right; Vincent Browne is saying he believes the bankers told the truth to Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan on the night that our economic sovereignty was handed over to the Troika.

Even the most ignorant, the most disinterested, the most ill informed Irish citizen knows that the bankers lied through their teeth that night.

So why is it that a journalist who has spent decades investigating and analysing scandal after scandal in the Irish financial sector can mouth such an idiotic comment?

The answer can be found in these six words spoken by Browne:

And I know some of them.

This comment confirms a disturbing trend in Irish journalism. A trend that sees some journalists loses their objectivity after coming ‘to know’ those they are investigating.

And this is not the first time Vincent Browne has lost his professional objectivity as a result of ‘getting to know’ financial/political criminals.

For many years he was a strong critic of the criminal politician Haughey but in Haughey’s latter years Browne enjoyed some great nights out in Abbeyville drinking wine and discussing the old days with the gangster.

Before long he was a great admirer and defender of the traitor/criminal.

Journalist Michael Clifford: Getting it wrong on the bank inquiry

According to journalist Michael Clifford the lack of a paper trail concerning the major decisions taken during the 2008 financial crisis is of minor importance (Irish Examiner).

If that were all that was wrong in the department, we’d all be in clover.

In his article Clifford leads the raging elephant of political/administrative corruption into the room, sticks a long, well sharpened spear up the creatures rear end to ensure maximum pain and then proceeds to completely ignore the ensuing rampage.

Instead he focuses on what he obviously believes are more important aspects of the first days of the latest banking inquiry.

Like, for example, how finance officials had to go home to find out details of that year’s budget or how Fianna Fail is reacting to the inquiry.

This journalist could not be more wrong.

The lack of a paper trail is the single most important aspect of the entire disgraceful episode because it tells us just how corrupt our political/administrative system has become.

Allow me to analyse Clifford’s raging elephant in the room.

Rob Wright, the Canadian public servant who compiled a report on how the Department of Finance was asleep at the wheel during the boom, gave evidence.

Rob Wright is wrong in his conclusion that the Department was asleep at the wheel.

The Department of Finance was not asleep at the wheel. The Department was fully aware of what was happening throughout the boom years, the Central Bank, Revenue and all other relevant state agencies also knew exactly what was happening.

No action was taken because our corrupt political system was, and still is, more concerned with protecting the interests of those who benefitted hugely from the boom than they were/are in the interests of the Irish people.

All our state agencies, including the police, operate under the direct control of our corrupt political system.

Wright was ‘flummoxed’ by the lack of a paper trail surrounding the major decisions made during the crisis.

He was told by many public servants that it was the Freedom of Information Act that was to blame. Nobody wanted to commit to paper anything that might come back to haunt them.

There could be serious ‘hassle’, he was told, if an FOI request revealed a difference of opinion between a minister and a civil servant.

One minister, we’re told, ‘had a lot of concern’ about the Freedom of Information Act after one such revelation.

It is deeply disturbing that civil servants can casually dismiss their disgraceful actions/inactions because of a fear of ‘hassle’ from a minister.

It is deeply disturbing that a minister (and, of course, he/she is not alone in this) expresses concern at the prospect of citizens becoming properly informed by way of an FOI.

It is deeply disturbing that any meeting of ministers and their senior public servants could be conducted without any notes/record being taken never mind the major, life impacting decisions taken during the financial crisis.

To put it bluntly, only those in charge of the most perverse, corrupt, diseased banana republic would think it acceptable to make such decisions while consciously deciding to keep no record in case they were made to account for their betrayal.

As far as I am aware, and I hope to check on this further in the coming year, there is a legal requirement for civil servants to record all minutes of all government/ministerial meetings.

Journalist Clifford ends his article:

The jury is still out on whether this whole thing will amount to a hill of beans.

Wrong again:

The jury is in, every informed person knows what happened, knows that the current inquiry is a disgraceful farce, knows that it won’t even amount to a hill of beans.

The people, in recent elections, polls and protests, have given their verdict – Guilty.

They have delivered their sentence – The abolition of our corrupt political/administrative system.

All that remains is for the sentence to be carried out and, hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later.

Copy to:
Michael Clifford
Department of Finance
All political parties

State attacks democracy and Credit Unions

I found myself checking the date today after reading this headline in the Journal.

The Central Bank wants to limit how much you can save in a credit union

No, it wasn’t April 1st so I concluded it had to be the latest, and certainly most sinister, attack by the State/Central Bank on Credit Unions in a blatant attempt to protect the interests of the greedy/corrupt banks.

Payment Protection Insurance fantasy 'investigation'

I’ve just received the most bizarre letter of my life.

It’s a letter from my credit card company informing me of the outcome of their ‘investigation’ into the possibility that they may have mis-sold me Payment Protection Insurance (PPI).

The PPI scam was in operation for years resulting in the theft of millions by various financial institutions.

The Central Bank instructed these financial institutions to repay all monies illegally extracted from customers.

The ‘investigation’ into my case has been going on since last October and it’s conclusion is summed up in the following paragraph of the letter.

Following our investigation I can confirm that our records show that PPI was sold to you during a telephone call on 27 May 2010, however, this cover was cancelled the following day. Therefore, no PPI premiums have ever been charged to the account.

So, no written contract, no signature, no record of any payments. Just a phone call in the night which was cancelled the next day – neat.

Mrs. Drumm, her husband's heart and money

I see Mrs. Drumm feared her husband David might drop dead from a heart attack because of all the pressure he was under.

He was working long hours at the bank, she pleaded. Ahhh…the poor man.

The marriage was going through a really tough time she said. Ahhh…the poor woman.

The world was going through a really tough time, she pleaded. Ahhh…the poor…what…the fecking world???

Anyway, the poor woman claims that the €1 million transferred to her account from her husband’s had absolutely nothing, I repeat, absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with hiding money from his creditors.

I mean, the very thought is, I’m sure, repugnant to every fibre of her principled and innocent being.

Still, while I believe her without question, I’m sure there are many, many people out there whose marriages, finances, futures and even lives have been destroyed by the likes of individuals like Drumm who would dearly have wished that he had dropped dead long before he became involved in destroying their lives.

Why Ireland is a banana republic

Letter in today’s Irish Times

EU and financial transactions tax


A total of 11 EU member states have announced plans to introduce a financial transactions tax.

The Government has failed to opt into this process.

Some 25 leading civil society organisations have joined Claiming Our Future to call for the introduction of a financial transactions tax in Ireland.

These include the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Mandate, Impact and Siptu; Trócaire, Christian Aid and Oxfam; Feasta and Cultivate; and the European Anti Poverty Network, the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, Social Justice Ireland, and the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

The 11 member states involved in bringing forward this financial transactions tax include Germany, France, Greece and Spain. The tax would raise 0.1 per cent on trading in bonds and 0.01 per cent on trading in derivatives.

The proposal has been advanced through an “enhanced cooperation procedure”.

The Government chose not to opt into this procedure and has played no role in the development of this initiative. It could have raised between €300 million and €500 million for the Irish exchequer.

We are disappointed the Government did not take the opportunity to make the financial services sector contribute to the recovery of Irish society and economy.

It is extraordinary that the financial services lobby has been able to persuade the Government to opt out of this tax.

A financial transactions tax would raise much-needed revenue for the exchequer, reduce harmful economic activity by short-term speculators and high-frequency financial traders, and make resources available to invest in public services, address climate change, eliminate poverty and support development aid.

Yours, etc,
Niall Crowley
Nina Sachau
Claiming Our Future,
2/3 Parnell Square East,
Dublin 1.

The truth about politicians, regulators and bankers

Letter in today’s Irish Times.


There is now no doubt that in the past we got the kind of regulation that our governments and increasingly powerful business lobbyists wanted.

The Government appointed the regulator and, no doubt, outlined the job specifications, which seem to have been roughly: “A regulator is just a civil servant, he never gets high-falutin’ notions and doesn’t get in the way of big business. ”

Despite the appalling consequences of our lack of effective regulation and legislation in the past, John Bruton, the former taoiseach of a Fine Gael-led coalition, in his capacity as chairman of the IFSC, told the European Insurance Forum Conference in May 2013 that we needed to put a rein on financial regulation.

Some banks, he claimed, had handed back their licences because of oppressive regulation, regulation which was risk-averse. ome weeks later an American businessman, interviewed on an RTÉ radio news programme, candidly stated that one of the factors that attracted US investors to Ireland was our “low regulatory hurdles”.

Matthew Elderfield, while acknowledging the greatly improved staffing levels in the regulator’s office, has severely criticised the present government’s failure to implement recommendations he made before his departure from his position as financial regulator.

No doubt, as soon as the Dáil committee of inquiry has completed its work we will be promised effective legislation and a robust regulatory regime. However, powerful forces will be working openly and behind the scenes to dilute or hinder these measures.

Yours, etc,
Denis O’Donoghue,
Co Kerry