Tuesday, July 2, 2013

There are more tapes!

The Anglo tapes continue to be a source of great annoyance and outrage for citizens.

They provide the most direct evidence yet of the appalling, sneering and arrogant attitude of the banking sector to the banking crisis that crashed the Irish economy five years ago.

Last week I asked the Taoiseach during Leaders Questions in the Dáil if he knew if any other tapes from any of the other banks existed. It is common practise for phone conversations between bankers/brokers to be taped to ensure accuracy over agreements reached.

Last week the Taoiseach said that he didn’t know.

Today I asked the Taoiseach once more about the existence of additional tapes. He admitted that other tapes of conversations in other banks do exist.

He also revealed that the Minister for Finance is writing tomorrow to the banks asking that they ensure that any tapes in their possession are held safe.

I was surprised by this. The fact is that it is five years since the banking crisis and several years since the Gardaí took possession of the Anglo tapes. The first of these tapes was published almost two weeks ago.

But only now is the Minister for Finance taking action. This is evidence of the dismal way in which the government has handled this crisis from the outset.

Much of the focus around the tapes has been on who within the previous Fianna Fáil government knew what was going on and who met with the bankers and what can they tell us of the events of September 2008.

Last week I asked Deputy Martin, who was then a senior figure in the Cabinet to make a statement to the Dáil setting out which Fianna Fáil government Ministers met the bankers. There has been no response to that from the Fianna Fáil leadership.

It would also be important to find out of Fianna Fáil representatives other than ministers had contact with the bankers.

Instead of facing up to these issues the Fianna Fáil leadership has tried hard to distract attention away from its role in the debacle. But the questions won’t go away.

Last week the Taoiseach also said that there were no files of any value in the Department of the Taoiseach. Today I asked him about the files in the Department of Finance and the Central Bank and can these files shed more light on what happened?

He declined to answer.

There is real and understandable public cynicism about the ability of the government to get to the truth. This is inevitable given the close relationship between the golden circles of bankers, some politicians, and developers and speculators.

It was reinforced by the Government rewarding so many senior banking executives with well-placed and highly paid jobs.

As hundreds of thousands of households pay their property tax bills under threat of legal action and families try to pay other bills and put food on the table, they believe there is one law for the rich and well-connected and another for everyone else. There certainly appears to have been no law for the bankers.

The Anglo tapes have revealed that they knew what they wanted– they wanted the ‘moolah’ and were convinced from their relationship with the government that it would be handed over. And they were right. They got it.

The decision to bail out Anglo Irish Bank and the other Irish banks has cost the Irish state almost €100 billion - €64 billion in bank recapitalisation and €32 billion for NAMA.

It helped to collapse our economy and ended up in us losing our economic sovereignty. The Fianna Fáil leadership created this policy

Fine Gael and Labour continue to pay bankers big bucks. In October 2011, Michael Noonan admitted to Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty that 22 of the top 50 Anglo bosses at the time of the crisis, still worked in Anglo, and 19 of them were paid salaries over €175,000 each year. One of the men speaking on the Anglo tapes worked in the bank up to February this year.

Fine Gael and Labour paid out all the bank bondholders and inflicted austerity budgets every year to pay for it.

But Fianna Fáil has the most questions to answer.

1.       What role did Micheál Martin, now leader of Fianna Fáil and senior Minister at the time, play in the lead-up to the issuing of the bank guarantee and after?
Why, when even senior Anglo bosses were saying bondholders would have to be burned, did Fianna Fáil insist on paying out to all the bondholders?
Why did Fianna Fáil not ask to see Anglo’s books when the bank first showed signs of financial difficulty – why did it trust what the bank was saying and trust a regulator who’d shown himself to be inept?
Why did Fianna Fáil issue a blank cheque to Anglo in October 2008 but not nationalise the bank until January 2009?
Did Fianna Fáil’s leader and the Taoiseach of the day think it was appropriate to be playing golf with the head of Anglo Irish in July 2008 and what did they talk about?
Which Fianna Fáil representatives talked to Anglo bosses at the time of the guarantee, what did they talk about and will they tell the people what was said? Which of them are still on Fianna Fail’s front bench?
       Were Fianna Fáil given a report by international bank Merrill Lynch that said Anglo was a basket case and did they ignore that report?

These are just some of the questions that need answers.


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