12
Feb
09

Is Brian fixing the economy with sparknotes?

A thought occurs to me. How embarrassed are Fianna Fáil voters feeling these days? I mean, they won the last election largely because they were seen as the best stewards of a successful economy. I recalled an episode of Questions & Answers where Brian Cowen (then finance minister) displaying a smarmy, sarcastic attitude that seemed to suggest, “If you really trust Fine Gael with the economy we built go right ahead and vote for them,” which of course was largely their campaign message. I watched several vox-pop segments where people said they were pissed off about the miserable public service in this country but they were still voting Fianna Fáil because they didn’t want to “rock the boat” (it’s a shame that boat turned out to be the Titanic).

I ask this because Brian Lenihan yesterday achieved something I’d previously thought impossible by continuing to astound us with his government’s incompetence. A report commissioned by the minister stated that the bank he was in the process of nationalising had been hiding its financial problems with loans from other banks, and he DIDN’T FUCKING READ IT. It would be hilarious, if not so bloody infuriating.

Anyway, a FF backbencher (I don’t remember which one) was on Vincent Browne’s show last night suggesting that when judging this government’s performance one must consider it in a global context. The problems with the Irish economy simply reflect the problems happening the world over, he claimed. Cowen suggested something similar on Marion Finucane’s radio show last weekend when he said our problems have been fuelled by the collapse of international markets for Irish goods. Sorry, Biffo, but that’s not good enough. There was no international market for Irish houses. Our problems, which are exceptional even in the current international climate, came about because our economy was completely dependent on a grossly inflated housing market that the government had to know couldn’t sustain itself. That and the complete inability to regulate institutions lending money to people who clearly couldn’t pay it back.

Of course I don’t buy the “I never read it” excuse. It’s far too convenient, and amazingly similar to Barry Andrew’s handling of the Bishop of Cloynes case, or Michael Martin being unaware that the HSE were ripping off of pensioners in nursing homes because he was late for the meeting where it was discussed (god be with the days when a minister’s job could be questioned because somebody in the department forgot to post a letter). What seems to me to have happened here was that Lenihan was aware, at least to some degree, of what had been happening at Anglo Irish Bank, but didn’t react because he had no idea how to. Much of our government’s incompetence is borne from ten years of a policy of ignoring problems in the hope that they would go away. After all, it worked fine until now.

The more I think about it the more I feel my future lies outside this country. I’d hate to leave, and I realise every country is feeling a crisis on the jobs front, but for the sake of my sanity I’m becoming increasingly convinced that I must live in a real country, with a government that offer even the slightest indication that they have some grasp of the problems they face.

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6 Responses to “Is Brian fixing the economy with sparknotes?”


  1. February 13, 2009 at 1:03 am

    When times were good FF drilled it into our heads that they, and they alone, created the Celtic Tiger. Now lets not be cheap and obvious and totally correct by saying, well if they caused the ‘Tiger surely they must have killed it too. No, lets not even go there, instead let us ask FF to do one simple thing: if they generated the original Celtic Tiger, then please, why don’t they just pull another one out of the bag now!? *holds breath*… *turns blue*…. *then purple*…. *dies*… *rots*… *my long since dissolved bodily essences witness the sun expanding and engulfing the earth*… *Andromeda smashes into the milky way*… *the universe folds back onto itself and contracts into a single point of matter*… *then explodes*… *billions of years later Homosapiens begin walking around on a third rock from a sun*… *on a small island on this rock, corrupt political party gain power*… *the economy on this island suddenly grows rapidly due random global circumstances and due to an ill informed and misguided internal pyramid scheme based on the housing sector*…. *then it all fails and things become very bleak*…* a random blogger holds his breath*… *turns blue then purple*…. *then dies*… *then rots*…………. “nothing lasts, but nothing is lost”, Terence McKenna, quoting William Blake.

  2. 2 seamus
    February 13, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    hey,
    regarding leaving…
    a popular option these days…I just wish those that took it, could still vote. I’ll admit, that part of why i wish this, is because most of those who leave wouldn’t be voting for the government that presided over the circumstances that made them leave. And also – i seem to remember the polish in ireland voting in the polish elections, and the americans in ireland voting for Obama. But yet irish that leave ireland (apart from diplomats on official business, and defense force members working oversees), can’t vote in ireland.

  3. 3 interface
    February 13, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    IIRC, his excuse is that he didn’t read it because members of his staff did – not an incredible response considering its 700+ page length…However if he doesn’t do something about the incompetents who supposedly didn’t bring this to his attention then he really deserves every bit of criticism he gets.

  4. 4 The Unemployed Blog
    February 13, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Interface, I appreciate the comment, and understand that it’s unfair to expect ministers to read every 700+ page report that lands on their desk. However, the least we can expect of a finance minister who is nationalising a private bank is to be passingly curious about that bank’s finacial health. And when we find that information regarding loans taken out to hide losses was freely available to the minister, it’s not good enough to say a member of staff didn’t direct him to that information.

  5. 5 interface
    February 13, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    It’s more that they were lending to cover up losses, bizarre as that sounds, but yeah I entirely take your point.

    A very often quoted “key to success” is to surround oneself with great people, and to delegate. According to him, he has certainly failed on the first point.

    Quite strange to find myself defending a FF minister, as I firmly believe they shouldn’t be allowed to hold a position of higher responsibility than trainspotter.

  6. 6 Charlotte
    March 25, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Anglo Irish Bank seemed to tolerate low standards in high places and obviousily ran a Golden Circle I am aware that they currently have on a debtors list a current sitting high court judge who is using his clout to prevent his name been released The same judge has set himself up a Foundation in the UK for £82m sterling using his wife’s name intials are “RW” and his late mother in law’s age The address for residency he is using is currently been investigated to see if the house is occupied or empty and the registered business address appears to be one where correspondence is just sent on to the person

    The judge has been using the assets for his own personal use since his mother died nine years ago well with £82m lodged in a bank account a person could quite easily live off the interest alone He appears to have made one substantial payment with the assets in 2005 made what appear to be false admissions to substantiate the payment

    It would be very unusual for a barrister to have accumulated that type of income in their career and certainly not in the type of advocacy this judge did as a barrister where most of his came from state funded court cases He only appeared in one tribunal and that was in a small way his earnings for that tribunal in the 1980’s were I believe £40,000

    It is very much a case of low standards in high places as this judge is one of the most prominent judges in the central criminal courts and he is overseeing justice to others yet his fellow judges consider him fit to practice on the bench


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