Tag Archives: Bank of Ireland

Fab Vinnie, David Lee Roth and Michael O Leary

Back in the early eighties Dave Lee Roth, the spandex wearing ‘wella’ haired front man for 80’s superband Van Halen was being interviewed by Vincent Hanley otherwise known as ‘Fab Vinnie’ for the then hugely popular MT-USA Show on RTE. Vinnie, obviously in awe of the golden haired Roth, couldn’t contain himself and asked him what it was like to be so fabulously wealthy?

With a deft wave of a gold and diamond bejewelled hand, Roth flicked back his hair and looked right at Vinnie with those dreamy eyes and said

‘ You know Vincent, by the time I get to pay my manager, my lawyers, my accountants, my staff, my entertainment bills and the taxman, I’ve just about enough left to buy a small Caribbean island!’

I was reminded of this the other day while watching Michael ‘Arc Angel’ O Leary tell the nation in RTE’s Prime Time debate on Lisbon that we should vote for Lisbon because we are broke, because it is good for business and because he would rather have Europe run Ireland than the ‘Shower of incompetents in Leinster house‘. Michael went on to tell us that he was an important businessman. He employed a thousand people. He paid huge amounts of taxes here in his home country and told the nation that he brought inward investment with his company Ryan Air. Readers should note that it was at that point the memory of Vincent Hanley interviewing Mr Roth nearly a quarter of a century ago popped into my head.

You see, when Michael pays all his taxes etc you can be sure that his take home cheque wont leave him standing at the ATM machine praying to the God of ATM machines to please give him something, anything except that heart sinking message of

‘Sorry you have insufficient funds for this transaction’.

That aside, as long as Mr O Leary pays his fair amount of taxes and covers his costs which I’m sure he does, no matter how much he pays he should not feel that he has any rights or privileges over other tax payers, or that this gives him a right to a bigger say in our democracy than any other citizen of this state, be they taxpayer or welfare recipient.

And there’s where my problem with Europe lies. Deep under my skin I get the creeping feeling that Europe is getting more concerned about markets than people. More concerned about the economic imperative than the  social one. The more I hear ‘We need to be at the heart of Europe winning friends and influencing people‘, I can’t help but wonder if the whole European project amounts to nothing more than a lobbyists paradise? If so why not send a ‘Frank Dunlop’ to Brussels and save all this voting malarkey. Frankly speaking, a word in the right ear from a ‘Frank’ would surely see a jacuzzi in every house in the land. Just imagine it. A Europe with a budget worth billions of euro, covering nearly half a billion people, controlled by a gargantuan political structure where things get done by ‘winning friends and influencing people’ and where the social agenda is being tamed to allow free market conditions to prevail. What’s not to like for  Michael and many like him. It’s a businessman’s paradise!

So every time I hear a well paid business man, politician, economist, banker,  or lawyer tell the nation that they too are sharing the cuts and the pain like everyone else in this seemingly ‘banama’d’ republic, the memory of Mr Roth comes back to me. It rises up when I hear well paid commentators and journalists tell the nation that public sector pay must be cut, education and health cuts must be implemented, that we are all living beyond our means. And it really hits home when one realises that the cuts that the well heeled are taking are more than the average yearly wage of over 80% of the people in this country.

Europe and Ireland. A world of equals? I don’t think so.


Highway Robbery

There are some things that just don’t make sense. Things like taxing ordinary workers, cutting back services, and hitting Health and Education with massive cuts to bail out reckless and possibly criminal bankers in return for nothing more than their toxic debts.

We are told that this must happen in order to protect our international reputation. When we examine this more closely we find that those who we are concerned with impressing are actually the people who helped fuel the crisis in the first place. For example Standard and Poors are now judging our future credit rating unfavourably due to prevailing economic conditions. Fair enough you might say but you might also reasonably ask these people why, if they are such good judges of economic health, they did not foresee the crisis in the first place? Presumably their ability to judge the credit rating and economic outlook for nation states did not just come last week, or did it? Is it possible that these people decided that our borrowings should cost more because they know we need to borrow more to survive the crisis they didn’t see coming? You know how the capitalist mantra goes, the greater the demand, the higher the price. Simply put, make hay while the sun shines.

We are also told that if we don’t implement these harsh economic conditions on our citizens, our country will be taken over by the IMF who will ruthlessly cut services and slash budgets like some maniac Texan with a chainsaw. Perhaps someone could explain how this could happen? Was their an agreement made by any Government, past or present, that effectively borrowed money and put up as collateral the economic independence of this great country? Did I miss a referendum asking me to vote for something like this? This is a bit like waking up one morning to find that your wife, mother, or father, had borrowed a load of money and without your permission had given as collateral the title to your home and now that the money has been wasted, ask you to pay the debt in order to save the family home from takeover by their creditors.

It is a sobering thought that the recent 7 billion of state money pumped into our sick and blighted banks is three times that which the last mini budget tried to claw back from the taxpayer and almost equal to what will be clawed back over the next few budgets. Now I’m no rocket scientist but when you look at it that way you begin to get a sense of what is happening here. The citizens of Ireland and many generations to come, are being forced (not asked) to pay to prop up an unreformed, greed driven banking system and an incompetent, reckless Government which has failed miserably to govern this country in a responsible and prudent manner over the last ten years.

In the murky world where politics and business meet, that unfortunately does make sense.

Where are they now?

Dan McLaughlin. Remember him? Yeah, sure you do! You know, the economist guy with the Bank of Ireland who became one of the cheerleaders of the ‘celtic tiger’. Dan was a great man for figures and abbreviations. A few years back when the party was in full swing all RTE had to do was point a camera at Dan and he would let off a volley of CAPITAL LETTERS, percentages, numbers, and statistics to reassure us all that said party would not be coming to an end any time in the near future. The housing market was sound. The economy was in fantastic shape. Ireland was a world beater! Dan the man!  Dan the Bullish Man!

Funny thing is that if you add a t to Bullish and then move the sh in front of the i you come up with possibly a more suitable and descriptive word for Dan. Go on. You know you want to try it!

Of course Dan the Bullish Man was only doing his job. And a bloody great job he did too. Talking up the property market, talking up the economy, talking up the bank that paid his wages. Sure what else would you expect him to do? Anyone with an ounce of wit would know that right? Anyone that is, apart from the mandarins in RTE who seemed to hang unquestionably on his every word.

One has to wonder at the wisdom of paying too much attention to the bullish outpourings of someone who clearly had  a vested interest in talking up the economy. Nonetheless, Dan had his day. Bullishly telling us from TV screens, print and internet media, how wonderful life was. Always dapper, always well versed, Dan oozed positivity and confidence so that we all could feel good about ourselves as we spent our way to nirvana.

Then, one day, without warning or fanfare, Dan the Bullish Man, disappeared. Disappeared before our very eyes he did, and since that day not a trace of him has been found. RTE in particular seem to have great difficulty in finding him. Apparently a huge search was conducted within the RTE campus for him. Every basement, disused studio, props department, and costume cupboard  was thoroughly searched but they found no sign of the man. Many RTE staff and personnel were asked to check the outhouses and sheds of their houses in the hope he might have followed them home, but alas, nothing. Some say he has taken himself to the desert to live the life of a hermit in an attempt to reshape his vision of the world. Others claim to have seen him in many places around the world, yet none can pin him to one location.

It seems that Dan the Bullish Man has completely slipped off the radar of the Irish psyche and having blazed a trail during the boom years, has finally been put out to grass.

I wonder why?

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