Are there no heroes left? Has ‘Goodness’ abandoned us altogether? Has it scurried off into the night wearing a mohair coat?
I ask this only because I am in shock. Yes. In shock I am. Having listened to Garret Fitzgerald or ‘Garret the Good’ at the weekend, exhorting us all to vote for Fianna Fail’s Eoin Ryan, fearing for his health, I googled him and came across the following report on RTE’s website dated Wednesday, 17 February 1999 which reads
‘Former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald has confirmed that AIB and Ansbacher wrote off debts of almost £200,000 that he owed them six years ago. He was in financial difficulties at the time because of the collapse of the aircraft leasing company, GPA, in which he was a shareholder. Dr Fitzgerald was quoted in today’s Examiner newspaper as pointing out that the write off occurred after he had left politics. He insisted that no favours were asked or given.’
Now maybe I’m being picky here but if you took out the name Garret Fitzgerald and replaced it with Charlie Haughey in the above piece, could you tell the difference between the two? I heard Eoghan Harris allude to this last year on the Late Late Show but put it down to Eoghan just being daft! But now I find that, though Eoghan is still as daft as a fish on a bicycle, Garret was indeed the beneficiary of a 200k loan write off courtesy of AIB, that great friend and patron of politicians. Add to this the fact that this all took place in 1993 when 200k was a hell of a lot of money and one begins to get a bad feeling.
The Moriarity Tribunal investigated the matter, and compared the treatment by AIB of Fitzgerald with their treatment of Charles Haughey. They found no evidence of any wrongdoing, indeed the Tribunal heard evidence as to the considerable hardship that Fitzgerald went to, to the extent of selling of his family home to repay the debt to the best of his ability.
The Tribunal concluded in their report:
In summary it would appear that in compromising his indebtedness with the Bank, Dr. Fitzgerald disposed of his only substantial asset, namely, his family home at Palmerston Road, a property which would now be worth a considerable sum of money. As in Mr. Haughey’s case, there was a substantial discounting or forbearance shown in Dr. Fitzgerald’s case. However in contrast with Mr. Haughey’s case, Dr. Fitzgerald’s case involved the effective exhaustion of his assets in order to achieve a settlement whereas Mr. Haughey’s assets were retained virtually intact.
So, Garret had to sell his house to cover part of his loan from AIB. Fair enough. That’s what many people would expect to have to do when the chips are down and most likely will have to do in the coming years, due to the banking crisis caused by a lack of proper regulation by our politicians. But how many of these poor unfortunates, many who are in negative equity, will have the balance of their loans written off by AIB like Garret Fitzgerald, Garret the Good, our former Taoiseach did?
Answers on a postcard please to…..