April 14, 2009

Bad debts could turn out good

Posted in Banks · 543 comments ·

Those familiar with George Orwell’s classic,1984, no doubt recognised doublespeak when they heard it last week in Dáil Eireann. In 1984, the official language of the state described things as being precisely the opposite of what they actually were. In Ireland, the Cowen administration is at the same thing. Have they no shame?

Last week, in true Orwellian style, fearing the catastrophic collapse of our balance sheet due to the liabilities of the rotten banking system, the government came up with an agency, which they called the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).Who do these people think we are?

The toxic debt of the banks is no more an asset than the defaulted debt of Argentina is an asset. It is a liability, for God’s sake. If these loans were assets, there would be no problem. But they are worthless pieces of land and ludicrous property deals, which are now dragging this country down.

These loans and their peddlers – the banks and the developers – are the financial anvil that is dragging us under.

Even Orwell would have blushed. Our government, not content simply to spin, has resorted to trying to change the meaning of language. It’s hysterical, in the true meaning of the word.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let us examine the Orwellian NAMA project.

Well before Christmas, this column argued that the best thing we could do was to introduce a ‘financial skip’ into which we would need to throw all the bad debts incurred by our bankers and developers in the boom.

Back then, the so-called experts were saying that the banks were fine and that Ireland should not do anything too radical. My idea was seen as radical. Like all new ideas, it has gone through the typical three stage cycle of ridicule, followed by violent opposition, and ultimately universal acceptance.

Initially, the ‘skip’ idea was dismissed by representatives of the banks and the regulator, who said that their stress-testing showed the banks were in good shape.

Then it was violently opposed, as seen on a recent Prime Time show on RTE television, by those who regarded it either as an open-ended bailout or those who argued the opposite – saying that the recapitalisation would be sufficient. Now it is being universally accepted, as set out in the budget.

Like all these initiatives, the devil is in the detail. The crucial thing is that we, the people, do not pay ‘cash for trash’ and bail out the banks, which is why this column argued last week that the financial skip was the right way to go, but its financing had to be structured so that it cost the taxpayer nothing.

Two significant issues are at stake. The first is the extent of the write-downs, and the second is, who will pay? Both are related.

In its simplest form, the less the state pays for the assets, the more the banks, their shareholders and the developers will pay. If the state buys assets at moderate discounts, the taxpayer will pay. So is it in everyone’s interest that we buy the assets at rock bottom prices? Yes it is, but that’s not the end of the story.

As there is no market now, if the state were to buy assets at today’s prices, it could acquire this land at a huge discount of 20 per cent of book value. The minister says he is looking at a toxic book of €80 billion to €90 billion. (It’s a bizarre world when €10,000,000,000 is seen as a rounding error – but there you go!)

This means that the banks lose 80 per cent of that book value of about €64 billion. The taxpayer takes on €16 billion of debts now for a possible upside of €48 billion if property assets were ever to go back up to 2006 prices. In such a case, the taxpayer would be reasonably well protected and could get a significant upside.

But the banks would be hammered and would be paying the cash back to the taxpayer for years. It means shareholders would be torched and, for many years, Irish banks, even after consolidation, would not be in apposition to pay dividends.

The banks would have escaped nationalisation, but we would face massive bank charges for some years. Obviously, Irish people would prefer to do business with whatever new entrants came into the market.

One other concern we must have – unpalatable as it may be to many – is that it is important to keep certain developers and certain delinquent borrowers on the hook. If we wipe out any possibility of their making money on some of the assets that we now own, but they will still administer, they might throw in the towel.

This means giving them some ‘hope value’ in the ‘haircut’ they are to take. We have to make a judgment call as to whether we, the taxpayers, represented by the Orwellian NAMA, actually want to operate all the empty hotels and golf courses that will no doubt end up in the skip.

Therefore, the price of the discounts might not just be about today’s market price, but might have to keep places open. It would be a mistake to make the discount so severe as to force many firms out of business because the owners can’t see any future. This is a tricky conundrum, but one that we have to tease out.

On the positive side, NAMA will effectively be the Irish property market for the next ten years. This means that, with enlightened management, we could get planning right.

We could also judiciously release properties onto the market in the coming years, so that the cowboy era of the past ten years is banished to history.

Thus the people in charge of this new agency need to see how it fits into Irish society, as well as simply Irish finance. They will need to be more than just liquidators, accountants and debt ‘workout’ specialists. At the top, we need people who have a vision for what type of country we want to rebuild.

To do this, we need regime change, and the current jokers need to be replaced by a new generation of competent Irish people. In short, we need a generational change, because a huge proportion of the upper echelons of Irish finance is implicated in the land/banking scam of the past five years.

The banks need to be cleared out – as must the senior public servants who oversaw this lamentable state failure.

Many of the most delinquent former princes of the Irish boom will fall on their swords. The liquidators appointed by NAMA must make the key decisions, not the politicians. If we allow ourselves to be conned again by this government, either by allowing it to control NAMA with its own cronies or, worse still, to be forgiven at election time, we ourselves will be responsible for a truly Orwellian nightmare.

  1. MarkC

    “To do this, we need regime change, and the current jokers need to be replaced by a new generation of competent Irish people.”

    I couldn’t agree more, but who exactly? They are ALL useless!

  2. Chocolate rations are up 10%.

    Yeah, I can’t shake this feeling that the NAMA plans to buy at really rather a small discount with a view to attempting to engineer a property price rise ASAP, thereby bailing out the banks and developers, saving the taxpayers skin on the one hand, but serving them up to the property barons for a bit of Shawshank Redemption style action on the other. Same old paradigm.

  3. Malcolm McClure

    David: Thank you for this excellent, thorough, economic analysis of our most important post-budget problem. Winding down all thise bad debts is going to require skill determination and patience with penalties, including public disgrace, on those who try to avoid payment whilst still living in ostentatious luxury. (?–It all came from the wife’s family–?)

  4. Garry

    Strange the way memory works, I remember the first article on creating a financhial skip but remember reading a superb comment from a poster here about a problem with skips….I cant find the comment now but it basically said that if you hire a skip and dont keep an eye on it, you’ll find it filled it up with all kinds of crap, none of it yours….

    ….Now the figures here has gone from 10 to 90 billion, I think the phantom skip fillers have been busy …

    Anyways, this latest article says that as well as bailing out developers and recapitalising banks, we must incentivize certain people.
    You can only laugh, rather than rant I’ll tell ye a story from my distant student days… a cautionary tale about the dangers of creating an incentivization framework where the participants don’t give a shite.

    Many years ago, a student — we’ll call him Paddy, got a summer building job on the J1 in the states. The job was to clear out an old apartment building before it would be done up, get rid of all the rubbish, rubble, fittings etc. Put it in skips and then the building work could start, Now the builder wasn’t going to pay Paddy by the hour as he was working on another site and Paddy would be working on his own. So Paddy would be paid by the skip load and one of the builders men would pick up the full skip and drop a new one.

    What could possibly go wrong? Sure if Paddy pissed off, he wouldnt be paid and the builder didn’t care if it took him a day or a week to fill a skip. You could say the builder was ahead of his time…. he wasn’t just paying some Irish kid to clean out a site, he had created an incentive package and his own man would pick up the loads to ensure compliance…The builder held all the cards.

    Well, Paddy held only one card, but it was a good one, you could say J1 Paddy was the builders very own Black Swan… he was only there for the summer and didn’t give a shite…. Paddy started using boards etc strategically placed in the skip and a layer of stuff on top to make the skip look full without actually put that much in there. Soon the skips were flying out, the builder was happy to see progress and Paddy was making a fortune. …Then Paddy took on another job, the false floors got higher, the builder copped Paddy had filled enough skips to have moved the whole fucking building but no sign of the project finishing up.. To cap it all off, Paddy wasn’t there when he did a surprise inspection. The parting wasn’t friendly, but Paddy had been paid up to a few days before and was happy enough.

    But who would have thought a performance based remuneration package combined with a light touch regulatory framework would not have been sufficient to ensure compliance with skip filling best practises?

    • The Eye

      Ill tell you a better one, Paddy the builder tendered for a demolition job in central London he was 30% cheaper than everyone else and got the job (the real expense was removing and dumping the rubble)
      Paddy got paid and headed home.
      2 months later after sending out two reminders to A and J blinds inc.
      the owner of the warehouse arrived to his extra large modern warehouse opened the doors and found ……….a couple of hundred thousand tons of rubble….and Paddy was gone.

      • Garry

        I knew Paddy but I havent seen him in over 20 years… good craic, very sharp but always looking for the angle for himself… sure he tried to sub out the work to one of his mates for half nothing. The rumour was he was even trying to rent out the skips… :)

        Time to cop on… Madoff isnt being incentivized by the Fed to make back the money he lost; the builder ditched paddy as soon as he found out. We incentivized these people enough with tax breaks etc over the years and now when they have left us in the lurch, we are running after them again…

        You cant control these people, let alone have them work for you….The only way to collect debts from these boys is with a shotgun; thats starting to happen already, no need to rush to help them out with NAMA.

  5. MK1

    Hi David,

    The way that NAMA works out (or not) is a key aspect of the Irish economy going forward. It has the potential of being an absolute disaster.

    > Now it (the skip) is being universally accepted, as set out in the budget.

    No, I wouldnt say that at all. NAMA is not being universally accepted. The banks have us (the taxpayer) on the hook both ways unless we completely nationalise them and get all the potential upside and at least a play in the duoploy which leaches money from Irish businesses and consumers. We are guaranteeing the banks, we are giving them recapitalisation on generous terms (ie: terms they wouldnt get on the private market). In other words, we are saving their proverbials. NAMA is another major save both for the banks and for those that have distressed loans, etc. The state is taking the risk on its books. The state (or taxpayers) will pay for the mistakes of the past.

    > The crucial thing is that we, the people, do not pay ‘cash for trash’ and bail out the banks. If the state were to buy assets at today’s prices, it could acquire this land at a huge discount of 20 per cent of book value. This means that the banks lose 80 per cent of that book value of about €64 billion. The taxpayer takes on €16 billion of debts now for a possible upside of €48 billion if property assets were ever to go back up to 2006 prices. In such a case, the taxpayer would be reasonably well protected and could get a significant upside. But the banks would be hammered and would be paying the cash back to the taxpayer for years.

    Thats if the banks remain private. The banks would have to extract as much profits as they could from their services to pay things off. How do they do that? By taking money out of the system from businesses and retail customers via charges, etc. What people need to realise is that our so-called banking system has always been a weight holding BACK our economy, as it leached money out of the system. We need EFFICIENT banks. We dont need bad banks and these are bad banks in many many ways.

    The only solution is root and branch reform. Lance the Boil. One way to allow us to do that is via nationalisation. Radical reform is the key and I think it would be useful if you would call for that.

    > The banks would have escaped nationalisation, but we would face massive bank charges for some years.

    As you have twigged, NAMA is no magic solution, no silver bullet. No solution will create asset price appreciation when there is no (not enough) demand for that asset. The National Tulip Management Agency if set up in the 1700′s in Holland wouildnt have been able to get prices back up to ‘what they were’. I dont want to burst people’s faith but there is no magic. Fairies do not exist!

    > it is important to keep certain developers and certain delinquent borrowers on the hook.

    On the hook for the money owed, yes. The problem is that several have very large loans taken out on assets that are worth less than the loans. And the projects with the loans cant return the loan amount. They are screwed. It doesnt matter how we may want to ‘keep them on the hook’, there is no magic which will get the loan to perform. They can go bankrupt and we will be left with the risk and the bad loan and the non-performing project.

    > We have to make a judgment call as to whether we, the taxpayers, actually want to operate all the empty hotels and golf courses that will no doubt end up in the skip.

    Better have them than nothing at all. And we can have them for a fraction of the cost. We (taxpayers) could have free banks, cheap land etc. When ING bought Barings, it paid UKP 1. Our government needs to think the same way. The state should be the buyer of last resort when the market “fails” (has no buyers).

    > This is a tricky conundrum, but one that we have to tease out.

    The IS the conundrum. Loans greater than falling and illiquid assets. It doesnt matter where they are ‘on the books’. They are toxic and in some way it has to be paid. Its just a case of how and from whom. Getting the taxpayer to pay for it is completely inequitable.

    > At the top, we need people who have a vision for what type of country we want to rebuild. To do this, we need regime change, and the current jokers need to be replaced by a new generation of competent Irish people.

    Agreed. However, I am not too confident that we have the collective competence, we certainly dont have when voting!

    > The banks need to be cleared out – as must the senior public servants who oversaw this lamentable state failure.

    I agree that a mjor cull is needed, but turkeys do not vote for Xmas! They are not going to do this themselves.

    > Many of the most delinquent former princes of the Irish boom will fall on their swords.

    Not willingly ….. everyone is fighting tooth and nail to hang on. Some hoping beyond hope that ‘things will turnaround’ before they are liquidated.

    > If we allow ourselves to be conned again by this government, either by allowing it to control NAMA with its own cronies or, worse still, to be forgiven at election time, we ourselves will be responsible for a truly Orwellian nightmare.

    NAMA will be filled with ‘cronies’. Parish Ireland is 50% cronies. Mavericks dont get on here. If we (the electorate) forgive ‘them’ at election time, we are nothing but collectively stupid. We will be turkey’s indeed …….


  6. There has been a significant increase in builders with large bank loans, who are experiencing financial difficulties, approaching the
    Expatriate Builders Money Advice and Budgeting Service (EBMABS) in the first half of 2009 compared with the first half of 2008. Some of those in difficulty are with Sub-Prime banks such as Anglo Irish, and are in danger of loosing their land banks and derelict building sites to the new superquango NAMA.
    “Contacting your lender as early as possible when in difficulty will save you considerable anxiety” said a EBMABS spokesperson.
    Ask for “Seanie” or “Fingers”.
    Developers who are already in difficulty with their interest repayments —or who have not paid any interest on their loans for many months or anticipate, because of a fall in income, that they will be in difficulty,- EBMABS gives the following advice:
    1. Contact your Fianna Fail TD as soon as possible by letter, email, fax or face to face rather than by phone
    2. Don’t ignore communications from Seanie or Fingers or their legal representatives, or NAMA, or anybody else who threatens you in any way.
    3. Be prepared – have your facts and figures at hand when making contact. The first step is to make out your household budget detailing your income and outgoings. From this you will be able to see what you can afford to pay. A sample budget sheet is available on the EBMABS website at http://www.mabs.ie/process/step2.html If you need help call the EBMABS helpline 1890 283 438 for advice or for a self-help pack.
    4. Know your bottom line. Know what you can afford to pay to clear interest payment arrears on top of your loan repayment instalments. Be very realistic, taking into account the overall cost of running your wife’s mansion, , two homes in South Africa, a chateau in Bordeaux,a golf course condominium in Florida, and a penthouse in Dubai. Make a reasonable offer and don’t agree to try to pay more.
    5. Don’t adjust offers in line with creditor demands. Restate that your offer is based on ability to pay.
    6. If you cannot afford to pay anything off your arrears ask for your arrears to be capitalised i.e. become part of the money borrowed.
    7. If because of your circumstances you cannot afford to pay the full interest due on the unpaid loan ask to be allowed to pay nothing at all for a period, until your TD has had an opportunity to speak to brian who will in turn contact Seanie and Fingers and the other lenders on your behalf.
    8. Get everything you have agreed upon in writing in case your loans are appropriated by a state sponsored bad debt agency such as the dreaded NAMA.
    9. Emphasise the mutual benefits of affordable and sustainable agreements such as transferring your loan portfolio and the associated arrears, to other less unfortunate customers of http://www.mabs.ie (ie. lone parents,low income families), but above all civil servants (who have a secure source of income and will not default on their responsibilities).
    10. Assure your loan providers, “Seanie” & “Fingers” (or the new Directors- should they be pensioned off-or in jail!)) that should your circumstances change you will revise your situation and inform them immediately.
    11. If your negotiation is not proving successful buy a ticket to South Africa (one way) and spend a few years in your on-golfcourse bungalow playing golf .
    12. When a reasonable length of time has elapsed,and desperation is palpable back in Eire, contact someone senior in the irish embassy in Johannisburg, about the possibility of a debt moratorium/ amnesty for distressed developers.Ask about bringing your expertise back to Ireland, and the chances of buying back the derelict building sites and unfinished housing projects scattered around the Irish countryside.( for a reasonable price). Offer to “kickstart” the economy and bring the good old days back again.
    13. Contact the superquango NAMA boss (Patrick Neary Junior) directly, and arrange a summit conference of big bankrupt builders (Bailey Brothers, Sean Mulryan,Jim Mansfield,Sean Dunne, Liam Carroll,Ross etc.) with the incumbent Minister for Finance, with a view to buying back the assets of the National Assets Management agency.
    14. Suggest a sum of 10% of the pre recession valuation for openers.Your bottom line after protracted haggling should be about 15%
    15. Urban renewal grants and new tax allowances and other ingenious grants and supports may now be suggested to facilitate your rehabilitation in society and more importantly re-invigorate a moribund economy.
    16. .Look if necessary, for short term acceptance of your proposal (e.g. 3 — 6 months) until the irate public become more receptive to the scheme.
    17. Don’t be afraid of court action from disgruntled creditors of old. However, you need to realise that if your case does go to court, more than likely you will be liable for the court costs. It will help your case if you can show that you are making a genuine effort tp pay them something. You should seek free legal aid in such cases.
    18. It must be acknowledged that there are some situations where people you sold houses to in the past, are and will in the foreseeable future, be unable to sustain their mortgage payments. This is and will continue to be a problem for the state.Do not get involved in controversial evictions/repossessions by part nationalized banks.If you receive threats from disgruntled citizens who have been evicted from their homes due to non payment of mortgage arrears,you must seriously consider your options. Independent legal advice from your solicitor and free, confidential and independent advice from a MABS adviser is recommended in such cases. He may suggest employing a personal bodyguard.
    19. The advice from MABS is that if you are experiencing difficulties with your negotiations you should not panic.A new Fianna Fail administration may eventually be re-elected and you will be in clover again.
    20. Meanwhile there are many things which you can do for yourselves like going on a world cruise, a Safari in Africa, trekking on Mount Kilimanjaro, drawing up ambitious plans for a new city in dublin’s derelict docklands etc. You might need specialist help with some of this but remember that such help is also at hand. (www.trailfinders.ie)
    The Expatriate Builders Advice Centre has helpful information, budget sheets and sample letters available on their website http://www.mabs.ie . Advice and information is also available by calling the MABS helpline 1890 283438 (Monday — Friday 9am to 8pm.) and from over 60 offices nationwide.

  7. 5 discussion points
    1 One wonders if the reason the much heralded property tax has not yet
    materialized ,could be because of it’s likely devastating impact on
    the number of home repossessions already expected,in the coming
    The government’s own assessment may be that the majority of such
    repossessions will impact-in the main- upon those numerous apartment
    owners who bought in recent years and are struggling with negative
    equity; high mortgages; annual community maintenance fees; and of
    A property tax may well be the last straw for this profile of young
    buyers already whammied by income levies etc. as these people are
    already paying sizable annual “rates” to a management company, and
    will be unable to take control of their affairs, within the half
    finished building projects they have now bought into, for many years
    to come.

    2 Does the Minister believe the new NAMA quango( already part staffed
    by the usual suspects-cronies and civil servants) will be capable of
    the tough and protracted negotiations
    necessary to get a good deal for the taxpayer from bankers and
    developers,or indeed will it be given such a brief by its political
    The 30 million euros spent on purchasing lands in North County Dublin,
    by Mr Michael McDowell for a new prison, springs to mind as an example
    of the type of unflinching toughness which will be required in facing
    down landowners, developers, the former Galway Tenters, and their
    banker cronies.

    The track record of the Financial Regulator; the Taxi Tegulator; the
    Consumer Protection Agency; the Environmental Protection Agency; and
    the 500 odd, other similar quangos
    created during Mr Ahern’s watch to generate jobs for the boys; will
    hopefully inspire confidence ,that Fianna Fail have the necessary
    skills to create a unique and successful new Superquango to protect
    the public from corporate predators and ruined developers..

    3. Given the likely scarcity of foreign based
    companies/investors/developers/buyers, likely to express an interest
    in snapping up Ireland’s incestuous, 90 billion worth of immovable
    toxic land and property assets at bargain basement prices; care will
    be required that the same old circle of big builders who formed the
    property bubble brigade,will not be the fortunate beneficiaries who
    eventually buy back these assets at half price or less, from the new
    NAMA super quango; and and happily begin their careers afresh?
    One successful businessman, Mr Larry Goodman, who weathered many a
    fiancial storm in the Haughey era,and rose Phoenix-like from the ashes
    of his almost ruined empire,springs to mind as a fine example of the
    resilience of the business comrades of the Soldiers of Destiny.
    Vigilence will be required to prevent such a recurrance.

    4. That Fianna Fail are still in power ,and are now creating a new
    agency to salvage citizens cash from a 90 billion toxic land and
    property bank will strike many taxpayers as akin to Al Capone being
    empowered to set up a “special protection agency” to take control of
    the illicit breweries (during the Prohibition era) -after they had
    already been plundered and emptied, by his business comrades and
    financial sponsors.!

    5. Will the new NAMA quango, with its contentious appropriation of
    90 billion worth of assets that no private equity receiver would
    liquidate (even at 5 cents on the Euro) eventually turn out to be
    every lawyer’s wet dream; and rival the corruption tribunals as a
    reliable income source for the next decade.?
    If so the entertainment will be a godsend for the suffering
    taxpayers, now that the farcical -if always entertaining- Mahon
    Circus, is about to be wound up.
    Hasta la revolucion!

  8. The Eye

    Blah blah blah, Well Davey boy how far are you prepared to go?
    Are you prepared to go all the way?

  9. Dilly

    I spent the weekend down the country, and I came back to the big smoke very disillusioned. After socialising with a few local councillors, and their supporters, nothing seems to have changed, the strokes are still being pulled, and people are still looking out for themselves and their cronies, rather than the community as a whole. I had to listen to them chatting about “the great man” Haughey, and what a genius he was. It was very disheartening to have to listen to all of this rubbish, while relaxing down the local on a bank holiday weekend. I think they will make a complete mess of NAMA, and the cronies will end up running it.

  10. The Eye

    I popped up to Newry on friday, 4 hours in traffic like a scene from a war zone cars back as far as the eye could see. Dundalk was a ghost town.
    Something really needs to be done and fast.

  11. Deco

    So far we are seeing a familiar pattern with respect to the state’s response to various dimensions to this problem.

    1) There will be a quango in charge. Civil Servants. Retired bankers. Old school tie. You have lived in Ireland – you know the story by now.
    2) There will be unlimited liability for the taxpayer. The bill is passed by majority. Never discussed in the media. McAleese signs it immediately.
    3) There will be no removal for the nepotists who created the crisis, out of their comfortable positions. The culture that pervades in Irish banking is preserved.
    4) There will be no rationalization of the hierarchies in Irish construction related companies. (but the lads at the front line, will be part of the line in the social welfare offices very soon).
    5) The media will officially give a cautious welcome to the plan – the media is restrained from giving an enthusiastic welcome – as it might affect their connection with the populace. The media take the advertising penny and are signed up. Just look at last weeks Irish Times editorials for clear evidence.
    6) Minister Lenihan provides yet more reassurances. (It is becomming a bit like comical Ali at this stage). He has complete faith in the Department of Finance, the banks and the other companies on the ISEQ.
    7) Cowen appears on TV, and later on the website. But nobody takes any notice. Willie O’Dea also pops up. Dempsey, Cullen, and Harney stay in hiding until the excitement passes. The Greens say this is necessary and are more sure of the idea than any FF backbencher.
    8) The bankers meet in Ballsbridge and open a few bottles of champers to “celebrate”. The bank shares on the ISEQ go back up for one week. Foreign investors us this as an opportunity to get out.
    9) The bankers mates hiding in Denis O’Brien’s resort in Portugal organize a hooley and get drunk for a few days. IBEC ‘endorse the deal.
    10) The rest of us pay more taxes. And there is long list of callers to Joe Duffy, and some of the regional radio talk shows, complaining about te state of the country and the corruption.

    Oh yeah – and I forgot The Irish Times Business Supplement will have the leading candidate for the job as head of the quango profiled on their back page. We will be introduced to him as a “safe pair of hands” and a “fine fellow”. We will also be told that he follows rugger/plays golf and that he went to boarding school and then UCD/Trinners. Most likely lives in SE or County Dublin. He drives an upmarket car. We are introduced so as to increase the ‘likeability factor’. There will be no mention of what exactly qualifies him for the responsibility. No mention of what he will do – except ‘instill confidence’. He probably holds other directorships. There will be a cartoon with him, smiling with mandatory golf club/rugger jersey. It is assumed that we are ready to continue our docile existence. This is a really serious issue – and we are being sleepwalked into it by the same political and media establishment that encouraged us to live like drunken idiots for the best part of twenty years.

    All the muppets who got us into this mess have been treated like this. And it is not just the IT. I seen a full page in the Sunday Independent that was a discussion with the new head of BoI. At least two colums were devoted to his passion for rugger. No mention of how exactly he intends to get out of this mess.We were also told that he spent decades in BoI. Well, I thought Boucher was in RBoS before he joined BoI. No analysis of Boucher’s performance as head of banking in the Ireland-Retail banking division of BoI. The interview was by the editor of the SIndo-and it was soft. I mean Shane Ross has ridiculed Boucher – and is ready to ridicule him again and again in the Seanad.

    Where is the analysis in the media ? I think there is none. I have yet to meet one person who is enthusiastic of the NAMA. Yet it seems to be a forgone conclusion that it is going to proceed. I just wonder will NAMA join FAS and the ESB etc.. and become fully fledged members of the IBEC lobby group ?

    But most worrying of all – at a time when we should be fidning some inner humility, there is a continual effort to keep us finding new ways of staying proud, stupid, obedient, and misinformed.

    • Robert

      Deco, Don’t forget :

      11) Bertie Ahern ontinues to appear on the front of the Sunday Independent grinning with his grandchildren whilst on page 2 of the same edition “Ex-Taoiseach warns of media intrusion into family affairs.”

      Some things don’t change in baNAMA republics.

    • gadfly55

      You’re on the beam here Deco, definitely hitting the pinpoint at 1000 yards. Nice to see some people flying first class in clear skies at 35000 feet and not a sinner to be seen to interrupt the view in any direction. Ah yes the power of pure mind, clear heart, and fierce courage. Lux et veritas.

  12. I was visiting the brother-in-law this last weekend. He bought a lovely house in a sleepy little village in the wilds of Leitrim, overlooking a lake.(two pubs, one post office/shop, a half dozen old houses.) I think the place is called Keshcarrigan.
    There are three seperate new developments there.
    One, I remember,was advertised in a full page of the Irish Times colour property supplement last year as a superb lakeside development .
    Each house was to have its own boat berth on the new Marina fronting the complex.
    Two bed apts from 350 k etc.
    Today,there is a locked gate inside of which one can see a 4 half built houses with scaffolding and no roofs.
    The two smaller developments are finished. One is almost empty. The other has a few occupiers no doubt lured by the offer of a free apartment in Bulgaria to each buyers, as displayed on the sale hoarding.!
    One benefit of picking up a bargain here is the proximity to the border.We visited the Shannon Pot nearby (underground spring source of the Shannon), and then drove on to Enniskillen(40 minutes) where we joined a huge car park full of irish registered cars outside the busy ASDA (wallmart owned) supermarket. The perspiration was visible on the brow of the overworked male checkout operator who served us.Pushing our trolley through the thronged aisles was worse than negotiating the M 50 at rush hour.
    I saw a number of Cork registrations!
    If Red Hugh O’Neill once marched to Kinsale in a vain attempt to relieve beleagured irish rebels fighting the crown,-today Kinsale has travelled the length of Ireland in the opposite direction, to pay homage to the Crown in a most unusual demonstration of what Mr lenehan would describe as “unpatriotic behaviour” .
    He would wouldnt he!-steeped as he is in the ethos of Fianna Fail, the “Republican Party”
    New border controls anybody?
    maybe even abandon the Euro.
    Membership has ,after all, caused some (not all) of our problems in the first place..

    • Dilly

      My sister lives over that direction, A certain Fianna Failer was trying to build a hotel on her road, but the speed limit was too high to allow planning to go ahead, low and behold the limit mysteriously halved one day.

  13. roc

    Speaking of Orwellian nightmare scenarios…

    It is inevitable that as this recession works itself out that the next kind of debts to start going bad will be;

    -Personal residential mortgages
    -Credit card and personal loans
    -SME business debt

    Now, at the end of the day, the state is much more powerful than the banks. And with VietNAMA, it will be the state’s DUTY to taxpayers to harrass (terrorise with be a more appropriate word) private citizens for repayment of debts.

    Let’s not forget that the total amount of debt this country owes is 400,000 euro for every man, woman and child in the country. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0203/1232923383096.html

    It is a fact of business recessions that all debt inevitably gets liquidated. The developer loans are only the tip of the iceberg.

    Orwellian nightmares here we come.

    • Deco

      This entirely correct. Nouriel Roubini presented a 12 stage cycle to the US credit crisis-subprime blowout-debt headache.

      We have only seen stage 1 of the Irish property bubble wind-down. One bank had an overwhelming share of it’s business located in stage 1. That bank was Anglo Irish Bank ANIB. When stage 1 hit, ANIB was floored. Amazingly enough the real culprit of the ANIB meltdown was not Seanie Fitz – Phoenix magazine points the finger at David Drumm – based on the increase in the loan rate when Drumm took over.

      Stage 2 is to do with businesses going bust, and laying workers off. It is in progress. It means that company cars are being liquidated. Company premises are being liquidated. And workforces are forced out onto the market. I expect AIB, ACC, Ulster and BOI to take the hit from the business meltdown. Overdraft lending is curtailed. ISME gets on the George Hook show, and ISME asks the government to “do something”. This has started in November. The cross-border shopping factor aggravates this enormously. And this will cause stage 3.

      Stage 3. Collapse in the commercial property sector. It has started. It is ugly, and getting uglier. This is the other half of the business of the state owned bank ANIB. But the other banks will also get hit.

      Stage 4 occurs as a result of consumers having to readjust to an environment of reduced overall wages in the economy. People restrain their expenditure. Discretionary items go. This means that people stop going to concerts and buy the CD. People take less holidays(ask Aer Lingus).

      Stage 5. As a result of an employment and wage crisis on a prolonged basis, the capaicity of people to service lifestyle loans completely collapses. The default rates on credit cards escalates. The celebrity culture consumerism that exists with an adolescent attitude to money becomes more than just a problem for Eddie Hobbs to tackle. The banks are headwrecked by the credit card debt problem. They raise interest rates to force people to pay up. The customers get on to the Gerry Whine show and ask the government to do something. How about telling Ireland’s credit card junkies to get real therapy instead of retail therapy !!

      Stage 6. Residential mortgage meltdown. With no money in the economy, the spectacle of people living in residences where they are several months behind in their repayments becomes too much. Mortgage holders capitulate. And it is at it’s most painful in the expensive housing belts around Dublin. The feeling as to the real value of residential property has descended to capitulation. People are at the end of their tether. This is what it was like in London in the early 1990s. It will be extremly painful. The building societies run into serious trouble. And the banks also.

      Now this is the best I can come up with. Perhaps it is overly simplistic. But this crisis is not simply a property developer crisis. Now, this is far more than that. It is a wholescale financial collapse over a series of stages.

      Against all these stages you have a (daft) department of Finance and a deluded collection of wasters in the Dail trying to mount a response. The media will get into the details, and completely miss the overall direction. There will be lies, coverups, standoffs, PR stunts, investigations, funny accounts revelations, twisted deals, brown envelopes, residential rezoning decisions, media endorsements of crooked banks and crooked bankers etc… And the lifetime’s achievement of Patrick sNeary should be apparent to the Irish people-never did anyone do some much damage, through such little effort, to so many in the history of Irish life.

      Roc – you are correct “developer loans are only the type of the iceberg”. A massive proportion of the generation aged between 20 and 40 lived as recklessly, as irresponsibly, and with as much arrogance as the developers.

      Ireland needs to go on the couch and get it’s head examined. When this madness started Professor Anthony Clare denouced it and said that there were serious problems with the phschological condition of many Irish people-based solely on their consumption patterns and expectations. As a result of saying something “damaging to economic confidence”, Sir Anthony Clare got sidelined for the rest of his life, and never got on the media again. Unfortunately he did not get on the internet to publicise his scepticism. But events have proven him correct. I am not concerned about the economic battle – it has already been decided. But I live in wait of the Irish fixing their pshychological problems in a proper theraputic manner and not expressing it in shopping extravangenzas in the posh shopping districts of London and Manhattan.

      • gadfly55

        Are you channeling me? The spiral down the drain hole has begun, and no one can imagine where this will take us and the effects on young adults. This is too grim to contemplate. I agree with your analysis and perspective completely.

      • wills


  14. G

    If I got a dime for every time in history a crisis was portrayed as ‘unpredicted’ or ‘unforeseen’ I would be a billionaire. Those in power always have the info but when things do go wrong in Casino Capitalism and the high rollers, it has to be immediately sold to the public as a ‘shock’, ‘unchartered waters’ etc

    Then there is the shock period because the general public high on the ‘lotus flower’ of consumption or low on the downer of ‘debt’ are not focused on the game at hand but those playing the game know the way its going so it has to be sold as ‘unforeseen’ otherwise………well you know the rest.

    Then comes a certain amount of denial, then anger (public demonstrations as a healthy sign of democracy etc) and then before things reach boiling point the remarkably internationalised phrase ‘green shoots’ appears, the Brits were saying it months ago, then Obama came out with it and then everyone was saying it on Primetime last week, the guy from IBEC, Hobbs, and even Mark Little in the end, there were these ‘green shoots’ of economic recovery all over the place like daffodils in Spring bursting out but no one knew quite where, maybe the gardener does.

    The fundamental problem is education and that’s not something you get in Irish schools.

    You get to use your memory a lot in Irish Schools, you get to put you hand up and compete for the teachers attention, you get to spend hours on honours Maths equations, you room is like something out of the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’, trig, algebra and so on and on, but to what end, few go on to NASA on the back of such exertions.

    You get to learn off copious history essays which you spit out on Leaving Cert day (the most important day of your life so no pressure there!) faster than Ben Johnston and then quickly forget, although some facts stick in the memory hole like Kurt von Schuschnigg was the chancellor of Austrian before its annexation by the Nazis’ but the rest is a ridiculous exercise.

    University isn’t much better, an even shorter ‘academic year’, ridiculous reading list (you’ll be lucky to read the first book on the list), then more cramming, memory hole stuff and out you pop like a new born baby after a 3 year gestation period of drink, the odd lecture and seeing women in your class for the first time.

    You haven’t a clue in the world as to what you should do or who you are but graduation is a big deal, everyone is smiling and you get to wear a cape for a day but and its a big but in the midst of the factory system of education, deep down you feel you may have been taken, your surroundings seem to convince you otherwise but you know you haven’t be taught to use the greatest piece of engineering in the known universe i.e. the human brain.

    That would be far too dangerous a thing, at the job interview you can almost hear the cry: “what do you mean you can think critically?, we want people who can work mindlessly, take instruction and when their economic utility is up, die (at little expense to the state) – that seems to be business/PD/FF ideology (if it can be called that).

    No, no, in those prefabricated buildings, rich politicians and others want your children to sit in damp conditions and worry about surviving their education not acquiring one.

    Mark Twain put it well when he said that after he left ‘school’ he spent a few years trying to unlearn what he had been taught. And yet education is the key, self-education, but how many can afford the money or time for that? There are mortgage payments due and no bailout from the government on that front when your partner loses his/her job or you have a sick job. The Bank Manager maybe lovely, accommodating and all the rest but the money is due when the money is due.

    In a previous political incarnation of the thousands of doors I knocked on, I would say I got 10 queries if that much, of an international nature, one woman I remember in particular was passionate about the Kurdish situation.

    The rest were concerned about how far the ‘school’ or prefab that was supposed to be the school, was from their house, the broken light or foot path, Lenin’s line that ‘all politics is local’ rung true. I was actually a little shocked at the parochial nature of the topics, and this in Ireland’s second biggest city.

    Education, education, education, to have knowledge of the local, national and international but people seemed atomised and I suspect the government is well aware of this so they play to the gallery so we never get beyond the platitudes, the double speak, the call to do our patriotic duty while the State was ransomed off by the very same people now urging is over the trenches towards the machine gun of debt.

    I agree entirely with previous posts that leadership is even more absent (at least Bertie did something of an impression as Taoiseach) but a vacuum does exist to which the unemployed seem to be filling at an alarming rate.

    Maybe Brian should consider cutting his hour and a half lunch breaks, the least he could do is take a leaf out of Mussolini’s book of propaganda and leave the light on in his office late at night! But the man seems to have so much disdain for the general public that he doesn’t even consider public perception of him.

    I always thought it interesting that he gave his ‘impassioned’ address to a business audience, what does that tell you about how out of touch FF have become?

    Fidel Castro once said that ‘capitalism is a prostitute that will not seduce us’, I fear Brian Cowen slipped under the sheets a long time ago.

    • Robert

      Excellent article G.

    • Deco

      G – you obviously have a high regard for socialists. But you should not be complaining. Bertie the Socialist was in charge. He discovered that he was the only real socialist’ in the Dail in 2002.The rest, as they say was history. A keynesian economic stimulus package, pay rises for everybody in the state sector, more government programs, and more rules for everybody. We cannot afford it any more.

      The parochialism in Ireland that exists is a result of the centralization in the Irish state system. Basically the further you go from D2, the less seriously everybody takes authority. Given the performance of authority, this scepticism is entirely justified. It is a form of dissent, and should be regarded as an indication that some people at least have the intelligence to deal with the moral failure of authority to serve the needs of the individual citizen on an aggregate basis. For some strange reason there is a widespread opinion that this independent mindset is a problem.

      From what I can see about Ireland of the last two decades, there are not enough independent thinkers, and not enough parochialism. The crowd surge factor has dominated Irish society for the past two decades. There has been pervasive conformity, and an almost lemming like surge from one area of stupidity to the next – culminating in that “shopping in Manhattan for Christmas” madness that existed in late 2007. This conformity is strongest in Dublin in the middle and upper classes, and is driven by consumerism. This conformity was getting worse and worse by the month and was driving many decent people out of Ireland. This conformity also created a level of intellectual subprime thinking that was frightening. There is a great fight going on in the media to make sure that the surging crowd can be directed in new ways as one. I think we would be all better off as a society if the crowd factor in Irish society was broken forever. Though the vested interests would probably fight it with every trick in the book – because it would herald their demise.

      • G

        @ Deco

        I may have quoted the odd socialist on occasion, I have read a few things on Fidel and have been impressed generally but disagree strongly on many points as well, but he admits himself he has made mistakes, something I have yet to hear from any member of government, the closest we came was Lenihan’s Budget speech where he said ‘we relied too heavily on the construction’ – now I know the Irish is known for their understatement but this has to rate right up there. I have to say I am impressed by Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Howard Zinn, Norman Finkelstein, John Pilger and others, Michael Albert etc

        I’ve read a number of things on Che, I recommend Jon Lee Anderson’s biography, I am still working on my opinion of him but again I don’t do cult of the leader/wearing t-shirt stuff.

        I am sceptical of all ‘isms’ to be honest, but I do hold out for the ‘third way’ and not the Blair type but a genuine meeting of the ways taking the best from the world systems out there with the sole aim of creating a prosperous, fairer and equal society, that might be radical for the PDs and US Republicans.

        Call me a utopianist, but I genuinely believe that the period from 1492 to 2009, the massive expansion of world trade, capitalism/neoliberalism is leading us to destruction as a species – either the environment will get us or some nuclear disaster – we have to change course.

        I am trying to think of the benefits of capitalism but its difficult to come up with many, maybe innovation, but you have that in socialist societies, maybe others can assist with this because I do struggle to think of any. It would have been great to see the embargo lifted on Cuba to see what they could have done with a level playing pitch, despite the economic stranglehold their achievements in education and health are impressed but yes, there are serious questions about the human rights dimension, a free press, open elections, emergence of opposition parties etc, I hold those things will occur with the changes that are on the way.

        But Fidel’s fight against Batista in the 1950s, a brutal dictator, where the vast majority of people in Cuba were poor and illiterate is something worth studying.

        I am not into Cult of the Leader stuff, I see Fidel with a very high degree of intelligence but imbuded with human failings/weaknesses like the rest of us.

        As for Bertie being a socialist, well it made me smile at the time, Bertie was all things to all people (GAA fan, MU fan, loved his flowers, attended mass, this kind of populist stuff) but even he knows now that the mask has dropped, the house of cards has crumbled.

        • Malcolm McClure

          G: Bertie was the consummate politician, being all things to all men. The feel-good factor was so high that nobody asked any questions.
          Should we blame Bertie for that? He was just doing what politicians are expected to do getting things done without ruffling too many feathers. Democracy’s cure for the cronyism and corruption that has now come to the surface is tho replace FF with the other lot, until the stink dies down.

          You ask about the benefits of capitalism. Besides innovation, there is the delivery of large and complex projects at far less cost (because of competitive tendering) than would be possible under any other system. Costs matter. Incentives matter. Time cost of money matters. Profits matter.Socialism doesn’t deal with these matters efficiently. For example, anybody know whether ESB made half billion profit last year? Another for of tax?

          • G

            @ Malcolm McClure

            Given your logic then with Bertie ‘as a socialist taoiseach’ and a 12 billion overspend on the the National Roads Project, we are closer to Havana than we are to Washington.

            Capitalism is arguably the most inefficient of systems, the most destructive to the environment and least compassionate for those who suffer its wrath – just asked the recently unemployed.

            The current ‘recession’ is nothing more than an excuse for multinationals to ‘rationalise’ – an Orwellian phrase if ever there was one – and relocate to low wage economies (but in the push for profit such companies will lose out in terms of product quality, just watch, lead paint on children’s toys – any takers???).

            Surely a true political leader should be more than just being what people want, he should set policy and plot the direction of the nation, show leadership not act the cameleon.

            We are now living with the consequences of Bertie’s governments short termism, quick buck thinking supposedly planned by civil servants and politicians in some Irish pub (a story which is laughable in the extreme) – the blue print came from the US.

            But what a storm it has become now, but I take your point about the Irish political system and that you are as good as your last election, but Bertie had the safest constituency in Ireland.

            Look at someone like the post-war German Chancellor Konrad Adenaeur, a world statesman, a man who put it all on the line, rebuilt relations with France. I remember a lecture by J. J. Lee in 1993 when he said Adenaeur wasn’t interested in the short term, he pursued long term solutions for Germany and took the hit in terms of popularity at the time, but his efforts rebuilt his nation, now that’s a leader.

            I give Bertie credit for the North, and to be Taoiseach for 10 years is not easy, especially when all-in-sundry are out to topple you, but his last years spent in the tribunals, his swan song around the world, his largesse, which we are still paying for (200,000 euro refurbishment of his office etc) has cost this nation dearly and as for RTE and legacy programmes and Bertie’s push for the Aras, well……………………..

          • G

            If you don’t believe me Malcolm, email (if it is possible) any Cuban hospital, speak to any Cuban consultant and ask them how much they can squeeze out of a dollar.

            Beaumount hospital in Dublin in 2003 had an operating budget of 90 million per annum, most of which went on salaries, Cuba in 2003 ran its entire health system, catering to not only its 11 million population but also ran a clinic for Chernobyl children and offered people in Latin America free eye operations, they also took in 1500 students from developing countries and trained them to be doctors, for free, the only proviso was that they return to the poor parts of their respective countries and use their knowledge for the benefit of their people!

            Could you imagine any Irish university doing such a thing? Could you imagine the Irish government (a far wealthier government once upon a time) taking in 1500 students from developing countries, and pay for everything, board, books, food.

            Indeed during my research in Cuba, I spoke to one leading consultant who had trained in Dublin incidentally, so he knew the other side of the game, he said that his profession found the idea of taking money from sick people incomprehensible………now think of that the next time you pay 50 quid (and wait an hour) to see your GP, or 150 quid for 10 minutes with a consultant, or 100 quid when you go to the A&E, health, education and housing are such basic human rights, enshrined in the constitution but during the supposed boom they were all commodified, because they are the rules of the neoliberal game, you pay for everything, you even pay when you drop dead (at least your relatives do), and your family pay inheritance tax on anything your father or mother sweated blood for.

            My father is self-employed, the State did jack s**t for him when he was made redundant in 1984 with 4 kids, indeed it actively works against his ingenuity and work ethic, he’s worked 5 and a half days a week for 47 years, earned every penny himself and if he got sick tomorrow he’d end up in some crap hospital, being examined by an intern because no consultant could be bothered to be there, with no entitlement to social welfare, and if he died the State would come looking for tax money – that’s an efficient system for sure.

            We as a Irish people just keep on taking it, and Harney with her privatisation scheme, using public land for privatised US style health care, not that makes me sick!

          • Malcolm McClure

            G: Granted, Cuba has a successful, professional, caring health service. In many South American countries, medical students spend their final year treating the disadvantaged inhabitants of remote communities for free, as an essential part of their training. I put forward the following as some alternative ideas for consideration.

            Most people are born healthy and most childhood illnesses can now be prevented by immunisation. Given adequate basic food and exercise there is no reason why most people should not live till they’re 75, living a healthy lifestyle, and barring accidents. If people choose to smoke, drink excessively, take drugs and have one night stands with loose partners of either gender, then their health will obviously suffer. (All good basic P5 stuff). Point is that life is about making choices. Many people in hospitals are there because they made foolish choices over the years.

            There used to be a system (remind me where, somebody?) that people paid their doctor regularly just to keep them healthy. His charges rose if they had an unhealthy lifestyle. But his patients stopped paying if they got sick. The doctor thus had the incentive to get them better quickly, so they would resume their payments. Accidents happen, but those would be covered by separate hospital insurance.

            Likewise for education. Each child would have a teacher (chosen by the parent) as a mentor from an early age. Parents would commit to a seven year contract with the mentor (paid, say €100 monthly). Apart from his normal class-teaching duties the mentor would ensure by monthly one-hour review (with parents and the child’s usual class-room teacher) that his client children (up to 20 per mentor) were performing to the best of their ability. His payments would increase for the able child and decrease for the slower learners. School buildings, maintenance and basic class-teachers pay would be paid for by the state. Primary education is too important to be left to semi-annual PTA meetings.

            These ideas put the onus on the professionals to get results. They could also be a possible way to reduce the direct tax bill, although some national assistance would still be required in cases of need.

          • Deco

            G – Actually I think that it would be more accurate to give Albert Reynolds and John Hume credit for the North. Reynolds was a pragmatist and knew how to de-escalate and demilitarise the North. His alliance with Hume, and overtures with Adams pushed for a de-escalation of the militarism.
            Ahern would never have got anywhere, were it not for Reynolds.

          • Colin_in_exile

            Excellent comments malcolm. You spoke the truth. I hope others can see it now, because the default position these days seems to be that you need to have a massive health service, and if you question why, you’re told because all kinds of people get sick through no fault of their own (which is a myth).

            Furthermore, I’m very sceptical about the causes of mental illness. Alcoholism is now accepted as a disease, but as Frank McCourt says, you can walk away from a drink, but you can’t walk away from Cancer. An ex girlfriend of mine who works as a nurse in this area told me that many of these people who suffer mental problems are simply immature with few coping mechanisms. Well, that surprised me, because I was led to believe from the media that it can affect anyone, like being struck down by lightening.

            I’ve known since the news reports in the early 80s that heroin is addictive and will ruin your life. So why do we have young drug addicts in 2009? We’re told education is the solution, but can you find 1 person who believes taking heroin is good for you? We’re told by the bleeding hearts that we need more treatment centres. Why don’t we just tell people that if you start taking drugs, you’re on your own. Maybe having a safety net for them incentivises their lifestyle choice?

      • G

        @ colin-in-exile – they are absurd comments, that mental illness is down to some kind of immaturity, ar first I thought you were pulling my leg, but you’re actually serious. God help those in mental distress who encounter your ex with that kind of attitude.

        • Colin_in_exile


          She didn’t say that. She didn’t say for example that immaturity causes alzheimers disease.

          What she did say (maybe I didn’t convey it very well) is that people who suffer from addictions like alcohol, drugs, whatever you’re having yourself…., do so because they have not learnt sufficient coping skills, which is basically down to immature behaviour.

          Now, I believe things like parkinsons disease is a mental illness which taxpayers should fund treatment for. However, the waster who takes all kinds of drugs over a number of years, then discovers he/she’s got depression because of taking those choices should not recieve funds from the taxpayers, but plenty of kicks up the arse.

          For the record, she is highly thought of by her colleagues.

  15. gadfly55

    Please, desist from the expression linking diablo and détail. The fundamental principles determine outcome, not the microscopic bits. Who takes the hit? Them or us, because when it is our money, we call the tune.Since this is political, it’s time to throw out the chiefs, all of them, including the ones who think, act and talk like the old chiefs, the new boss same as the old boss. So, how far can you go, in making a new order, just how far, and do you have the courage when it comes to standing up and taking fire.

  16. Johnny Dunne

    “the less the state pays for the assets, the more the banks, their shareholders and the developers will pay. If the state buys assets at moderate discounts, the taxpayer will pay. So is it in everyone’s interest that we buy the assets at rock bottom prices?”

    David, many believe buying the assets at a “deep discount” is a better option for the taxpayer forgetting about the requirements to recapitalise the banks at an “equivalent” amount to the write down of bank’s assets below their required capital level. This will have to happen for the bank’s to operate and have enough cash to pay back depositors and those who have lent the banks money by interbank loans, bonds etc. So assuming the write off is 80% on development land and the banks “lose” €64 billion, they’ll have to get the money to pay back liabilities. Madness — we’ll have to raise €90 billion before other “property” assets will need to be financed.

    Why not set up a “good bank” – this would be a much better ‘bet’ for taxpayers. As mentioned before, an announcement of say €3 billion (sounds small now when rounding €10 billion) available to “knowledge based” startups with a ’qualifying’ operation in Ireland would attract 100’s and even maybe 1,000s of the best international companies to set up operations in Ireland as a ‘safe haven’. This in turn would generate demand for commercial and residential properties thereby ensuring property values in Ireland don’t continue to ‘plummet’ in one direction leaving NAMA with little value in it’s assets.

    Every move now goes back to the “limitations” the Government introduced by guaranteeing all the liabilities of the covered banks back at the end of September.

    If the banks were treated the same as other companies exposed to the current downturn, the only course of action they would have would be ‘examinership’ to protect against bondholders (creditors) pulling the plug!

    There would have to be a ‘scheme of arrangement’ of payment to these creditors after the ’secured’ depositors are paid off. The Government should be using “our money” to protect Irish resident depositors (private and company) first and foremost. Everyone else has either invested or lent to banks knowing there was a risk. Retail shareholders might need to be compensated somewhat where vast amounts of their savings have been invested on the advice of “financial advisers” who should have known better the risk of investing in banks in an overheated property market where the likes of BOI had 75% and maybe a lot more of their €150 billion loan book in directly in non productive assets – ‘property’.

    There is a lot of ‘spin’ in this budget with little analysis of what’s going on in reality. Dept of Finance say average growth of 3% GDP from 2011-2013, does anyone believe this now ? This is the key assumption if planning a 3% deficit by 2013. Another example, Brian Lenihan says multi annual consolidation plan envisages greater reductions in expenditure than increases in tax revenue in 2010 and 2011. Just forgets to mention, he plans to spend €52 billion on current expenditure in 2011 from €46 billion this year, this increase is not all ‘additional’ social welfare. The unbelievable thing is he plans to have €40 billion tax revenues when we will be lucky to get €30 billion this year down from a ‘07 high of nearly €50 billion ! The only way to increase activity is through exports….

    An article in the Irish Times by Chris Horn (Iona fame) highlights well our problem :

    “The department with the most onerous responsibility is surely Enterprise, Trade and Employment. But out of the €13,600 that the Government intends to spend on behalf of each and every one of us this year, only €350 of that sum will go to that particular department.
    In cutting public expenditure, our Government should consider in detail how each expenditure can contribute to a sustainable export-led growth.”

  17. G : that was well written .

    Tir Na Nog : Ditto

  18. huffnpuffpolly

    Dewey and Chomsky have been telling us about Doublespeak for the past century and noone wanted to listen. Dewey said “On ceremonial occasions there is much talk of the rule of law, the separation of powers, popular sovereignty, local self government (I add fairness, justice, sharing the pain) and all the other shibboleths of popular government, but in actual government they counted for very little except as they concealed what was really happening. The realist knew that official government was trotted out on the Fourth of July and state occasions but actual government was that recognised by businessmen, lawyers and political bosses.

    Chomsky says government “pursues the strategic and economic interests of dominant sectors of the domestic population, to the accompaniment of rhetorical flourishes about its dedication to the highest values.”

    I see no reason to change the government except as punishment, certainly not a solution. I also think people have to stop talking about paying people large salaries and then incentivising them to do a good job. Hire the people who believe it is their responsibility to do the best job they can for the salary they are being paid.
    My biggest worry for NAMA is the persons who will be working there, what friends they have where. Just look at former finance people who are now directors at Davy.

    What we need is a change of culture and stop believing the trite banalities that are stated as truth. Firstly, we have to stop accepting such statements as “the public sector is being put upon”. It isn’t, for example when I went to school there were no half terms, just the Monday of Halloween, we got Paddy’s day – no week. We stayed in school and did our summer exams while the Leaving Cert. was being done. We must wake up – teachers will soon want money just for turning up for work, like the politicians.

    The next statement and Marian Finucane is guilt yof this one “It seems like a witch-hunt of the bankers”. I disagree, The likes of Seanie Fitz and the theftlike actions of Michael Fingleton must be brought to justice and if what they did is legal, then it is just part of the “legal corruption” of which Ireland as a country is accused. WE cannot condone the actions of these men or the Boards of Anglo Irish or IL&P.

    The other trite statement making the rounds is that everyone thinks that anyone earning 10,000 more than themselves is rich. This is just stupid talk. Let’s have a debate on what a salary based on need is and let’s go from there. Let’s decide what a good living salary is and define living well, living very well, etc. etc. I simply had to laugh out loud at the teacher on Pat Kenny’s Brian Lenihan hour who couldn’t sleep and was so anxious and couldn’t live on her salary and she had her apartment in Croatia. Who says a teacher should be able to afford an apartment in Croatia??

    The market does not work without serious regulation. Why do we have half-built houses in MUllingar, Longford, Portlaoise and Carlow? The banks are insolvent and business is crying. Sean Dunne was positive his contacts would get him planning permission. Had he lived down the country they probably would have.

    Encourage enterprise but people must know there are limits.

    NAMA will now control the property market so their decisions are incredibly important and must be minutely monitored.

    • I imagine their entire objective will be to re-inflate the property market as quickly as possible to get good money for NAMA’s assets, and hence return on taxpayer’s dosh. Same old way of thinking, they can’t break out of it. Then they’ll tell us we have recovered.

    • Robert


      Love your little digs at teachers there – You’re probably an idiot FF hack – You know the sort . . . . . . they appear on Questions & Answers and website blogs putting forward “their point of view” at opportune times. Never seen you on this blog before and you turn up with your teacher comments during the Conferences.

      Well let me inform you. I’m a teacher in Dublin. I don’t own any property because even in the so-called boom years I could never afford any property either in or around the counties of Dublin. No bank would give me a sufficient mortgage for a one bedroomed flat on Tory Island.

      I’m responsible for teaching over 200 12-18 year olds per week. I’d love to see you do it. You wouldn’t last a day.

      • Colin_in_exile


        You dodged the question, do you think your colleagues should expect to enjoy a lifestyle which affords them to own foreign properties?

        I went to what’s regarded as one of the best non-fee boys school in Ireland. When I was there, about 35 teachers taught around 600 pupils. Of that 35, about 8 were exceptionally gifted teachers, another 8 were average, the rest were a motley crew of lunatics, bullies, fascists and the totally disinterested. My 1st Year Commerce teacher’s response to a pupil putting up his hand was to moan “What’s wrong now?”. God help those who went to schools lower down the league table of success.

        I’m sure many people now in the dole queue would like a stab at doing your job. Are you willing to swap places, even for a half term? Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting your holiday pay should be docked also, but, with 3 months off in the summer, you must be tempted to do a summer long nixer, knowing the devil makes work for idle hands.

        • Robert


          I’m sorry to read that it seems you’re a begrudger. Typically Irish. You have a problem with a member of society being a teacher and a foreign owner of property. Perhaps that teacher saved their money over many years, perhaps they have a wealthy spouse, I don’t know . . . . But you certainly could not finance a foreign property on a teacher’s wage alone. That much is certain.

          For the record I teach in a school of 70 teachers – Not one, to my knowledge, owns a foreign property. As the Americans might say: Do the Math (0 % by the way).

          I qualified with an M.Sc. (Chemistry) and worked as a professional chemist in industry for 3 years before entering teaching. I left the private sector during the boom years as teaching was always really want I wanted to do. I knew I would lose an awful lot in money in the long run but that to my mind was never what motivated me.

          I then trained to become a teacher. For the first 3 years of my teaching career I never got paid during the holidays.

          I’m an exceptional teacher with many years experience and I come onto this website and read you stating: “I’m sure many people now in the dole queue would like a stab at doing your job”

          If this is a wind-up . . . .Well done it worked. If not well then you’re right . . . the devil does make work for idle hands . . . and I know exactly what you’re doing with your right hand when you’re idle.

          • VincentH

            No one here that is in their correct mind is getting at teachers. Each and everyone can see the insanity of attempting to teach anything more than 20 kids, for more than that is just crowd control. Where the 10 brightest are the only ones getting any benefit.
            But there are insanities in the system. Why are we paying rent for buildings the State has payed to be erected. Why are we paying the stipend to teachers in private schools, not much granted, but hardly the most effective use of the moneys. And what in Gods name are we doing with the pre-fabs, where in some cases, paying both for the rent on them and the ground they are sitting on.

          • Colin_in_exile


            Less of the sweeping statements regarding the opinions of each and every contributor here. You do not speak for everyone. You were not elected by anyone here to represent their views. I am of sound mind I can assure you and I think teachers are not immune from any criticism.


            You still haven’t answered the question.

            This is not a wind up. If you know exactly what I’m doing with my hands (apart from typing this email), I suggest you go into the clairvoyant profession and top up your earnings from teaching. You could even help the Gardai solve crime with your special powers.

            So nice to see your modesty shine through with your declaration that you’re an exceptional teacher. However, are you familiar with the saying “Self praise is no praise”?

            Congrats on obtaining a MSc. We really needed to know that. Any other wonderful achievements you’d like to share with us?

            Do the math….. “to your knowledge” is not the same as actual knowledge. Maybe some of your colleagues are modest enough to keep their property portfolios to themselves. Why should they be obliged to share such information with you so you can “do your math” ?

            Finally, for the record, I’m not a begrudger (even if I was would that be such a crime), what I do have a problem with is a teacher ringing in to a radio show, moaning about how difficult it is to live on over 60k a year, being unsackable, benefiting from 4 months holidays a year, who has the luxury of owning property abroad.

    • G

      Great Chomsky quote

  19. John Q. Public

    There are many people with mortgages today who have escaped the recession. But how do we know that these people will not lose their jobs in 10 or 20 years time and fall into arrears? These people could be the toxic debts of the future, our future, and thwart our recovery. Let’s nationalise the entire banking system today and prevent any future clog-ups. This would be better than NAMA and the state could be made to control supply and demand properly.

  20. Malcolm McClure

    David said: “We have to make a judgment call as to whether we, the taxpayers, represented by the Orwellian NAMA, actually want to operate all the empty hotels and golf courses that will no doubt end up in the skip…….On the positive side, NAMA will effectively be the Irish property market for the next ten years.”

    It could be a great time to be an auctioneer, estate agent or debt collector. We must take great care to ensure that the last profession doesn’t end up contolled by the gangs. If anyone got a visiting card inscribed ‘Southside Collection Agency’ it would surely concentrate the mind, specially if it had the ‘My Chemical Romance’ lyric:

    “Nama we all go to hell.
    Nama we all go to hell.
    I’m writing this letter and wishing you well.
    Nama we all go to hell.

    Nama we’re all gonna die.
    Nama we’re all gonna die.
    Stop asking me questions, I hate to see you cry.
    Nama we’re all gonna die.

    Nama we’re all full of lies.
    Nama we’re meant for the flies.
    And right now they’re building a coffin your size.
    Nama we’re all full of lies.”

    (Perhaps a bit too Orwellian –I hope I heard that wrong).

  21. huffnpuffpolly

    Response to Robert
    How old are you? How long have you been teaching?
    How much have you saved?
    Aren’t you lucky? Now with prices dropping I’m sure you can afford a house, maybe not exactly where you want? Look on the bright side of Life
    It wasn’t that long ago that it was usual to find a partner and then buy a house together but now every 25 year old singleton thinks he/she should own his/her own home.
    Expectations have been raised too high and it was just a coincidence that I mentioned the teacher. It was that Pat kenny had her on as his first “complaint” on his show where he had Brian Lenihan on and I thought maybe Pat did it on purpose. She was on 60,000+ and while certainly not wealthy, when compared with a family on social welfare or a self-employed person who had just lost their job and couldn’t even claim welfare, I suppose I did think she was a bit of a whinge who had misread the property market and believed she was untouchable. We simply cannot afford the “public sector” which we currently have. Just consider yourself lucky that you’re not graduating this year. You’re one of the lucky ones.

    I do hope you like your job and I’d love to think you enjoy teaching young people to think and critically evaluate the world they live in.

    • Robert


      Well it’s a terrible shame you can’t think and critically evaluate the world you live in an honest fashion.

      No I’m not lucky!
      I’m one of those unlucky enough to be born within the 1973-83 era – as is now apparant that our generation has had its wealth handed to a bunch of property developers and bankers and it will be us who will be paying it off for years to come (just after they screwed us with insane property prices)

      Let me also point out to you “that it also wasn’t that long ago” (1994) when the average price of a three bedroomed house in Dublin was IR£40,000 (50,000 Euro) – or roughly 3-4 times the average annual salary for those in employment. How much did you buy your house for?

      Now carry on with your rant of how you had to go to school on Christmas Day.

      You comment earlier stating “I see no reason to change the government . . . ” reveals your true colours.

  22. wills


    The toxic loans on banks books are a cumulation cost owing to
    a 15 year POnzi property bubble that swept across Ireland.

    POnzi bubbles operate along lines of passing the cost down to nest
    entries into pyramid metrics. Scheme collapses and the overall cost
    reveals itself, just like with madoff.

    This POnzi propery bubble cost/tab/bill is in fact what the toxic asset/loans is what NAMA is taking over.

    So, what we have is this,.. the irish taxpayer is been handed the 15
    year Ponzi propery bubble aftermath bill to look after, shoulder the responsility for and sort out.

    Now to me this is unacceptable,.. but moreso for other reasons than one might suspect,…

    Firstl, naturally enough i assert that he who played the piper/ the banks, pays the price,.. those who benefited on the upside to the POnzi Property bubble fraud get to pay the cost side when the pyramid collapses and this cost just does not mean cash but also
    time in jail, etc etc for justice to be administerd.

    But, secondly, on further inspection on this one sees another narrative at play,…

    I suggest that there is a cover-up under way under our noses.

    Look at the evidence,..

    NAMA is ringfencing in through a super quango legal arrangement
    these toxic loans/assets,.. this will keep the details secret.

    We are faced here with a simple proposition,.. the banks and property developers and with Gov facilitation engineered a POnzi
    property bubble across the length and breadth of Ireland and over
    its 15 years period made these people seriously rich.

    When it collapsed and only for wall street meltdown it still would be
    going a cumulative cost was revealed,.. as is the metrics that go with POnzi scams. Now whats happened,….

    The POnzi bill is ending up on the taxpayers account via NAMA barricading in all the incriminating evidence relating to the orchestration of the POnzi property bubble.

    This is a cover-up,…. these guys decided 2 years ago when the bubble burst to pass the tab over to the taxpayer,.. it was just a matter of when and how and with what cost,…

    The deposits guarantee was the first stroke in the cover-up.
    The capitalisation anglo bail out the second.
    The mini budget trojan hores the third.
    NAMA the fourth,..

    The Ponzi property bubble final leftover bill is and always was from
    when the bubble started going to end up with the taxpayer

    This is a legal crime our gov is committing.

    • paddythepig


      I’ve never been able to get my head around the concept that all this was a master plan cooked up by the powers-that-be.

      Regardless of this, you are still calling a spade a spade. Your use of the word ‘scam’ is entirely appropriate.

      Once individuals signed on the dotted line to buy shoeboxes for massive money, they were enslaving themselves for a lifetime. The fact that it was administered by a friendly ‘advisor’ wearing a shirt and tie, and a cheesy smile, just adds insult to injury. Cue the AIB ad with the actor, the Mammy and the athlete.

      Anyway. The fallout is interesting to watch. It seems to me that the Government is prepared to do anything to preserve an AIB and BOI sign in every town in the country – at any expense to the taxpayer. Personally, I don’t care if my few bob are with AIB or the Bank of Outer Mongolia ; perhaps a more open mind towards international alternatives would alter the parochial slant in Biffo and Brian’s thinking.

      But for now, it’s maintain the status quo, at all costs.


      • wills


        thks for comment.
        My contention paddy is not one of it been a master plan/ conspiracy
        moreso masterplan/greater powers at work over lesser powers milking
        the fu2k out of them in a master slave arrangement. I’m also asserting
        this techno feudal bully boy structure is kept underground at all times
        donning the mask of civlity and the system is all been run for your own
        good and bend over now while noone is looking and take it in the as$.

  23. Slave Trader –
    I would welcome anyone who can inform the room of the first recorded slave traders in Ireland and were there more to follow and when and how did they live .I am already adapting to my new Irish Trade Slave mindset and part of it is growing my hair long again that will reduce my heating bills I hope .I am sure my dogs will keep wondering what I am morphing into.
    The sooner we start talking about slave life the better and how we are to cope . The late Dr. Anthony Claire would agree with that approach . It’s a form of acceptance without living with anger and rage.In my mind the two Brian’s are the present Slave traders ( Lenihan being the biggest one ) and Bertie made his contribution too along the way.
    In case anyone might think from my earlier contributions on astrology that I was undermining certain signs because they thought I believed them to be bad or wrong please rest assure that all signs are good and all of them have different strengths and weaknesses .I was explaining them in their own contexts and with other information gleaned.No offense intended.

  24. huffnpuffpolly

    You couldn’t be more wrong about my political affiliations. I have never in my life voted for FF or the PDs. I think what they have done to this country is appalling and even without being able to control monetary policy there was plenty of options open to them such as regulating the term life of mortgages and fixing the maximum percentage of loan to value of house. They could also have controlled planning and the developers but they didn’t because they all believed that the market can work without regulation. It can’t. Just look back at the Junk bonds and the crash of 1987. I was working in a stockbroker in San Francisco at the time.

    What I was trying to say is that changing government is not a solution but I wouldn’t object to a change of government as punishment for what they did. I think your Dublin house price for 1994 is a bit low. I bought a small 3 bed on Clonliffe Road for 62,000 punt in 1994 and at that time people didn’t want to live in that area; it had no central heating and needed a lot of work.

    But now I’m going to really PSSS you off. I sold my 2300 square foot house (I built it in 2001) at the top of the market and I’ve been renting since. But I did invest some of it in bank shares (as they were falling) so swings and roundabouts.

    We have to stop the hate. I do critically evaluate the world I live in and I am as honest as my background allows me to be – that is, without knowing we all have a subjectivity which is innate. Mine is non-catholic, non gaa, non FF. Some would consider that non-Irish.

    Read Chomsky. He’s brilliant.
    Also Naomi Klein – The Shock Doctrine, she talks about the deliberate shocks that were applied to some economies by the followers of The Chicago School, especially Chile and Bolivia

    I had to smile at your age range. It was a bit like the rounding of the 80 or 90 billion that David Mc spoke of. If you were born in 83 that makes you 25 or 26. You have lots of time and loads of free time to travel, read or just sit still. The weather in Spain isn’t great at the moment

    • G

      @ huffnpuffpolly

      here here on Chomsky and Klein……both excelleny sources

      at someone else who said you found a partner and bought a house together, that strikes me as economic marriage, what if you have principles, value independence, are single and making the average industrial income, what hope is there that with 2100 net, soon to be 1850 net that you can pay your rent of 400 per month plus pills, live on less that the dole per week (200×4=800) and save the rest (850) in the forelore hope that you may at some distant point get a deposit together for a house in some estate with shit roads, an appalling health service and a cabal of politicans who have ridden the State finances into the ground, and that is a good scenario, it is someone with a job, 372,000 of our compatriots are on the dole looking for work that doesn’t exist and more added on a daily basis, its sickening but its real, long, daily struggle while Cowen et al issue platitudes, and how well they can afford to. We’ve only one life and this is how we are spending it, some State of affairs.

    • Dilly

      Well, if you read Chomsky, you definitely did not vote Progressive, as he considered them fascists, and wolves in sheeps clothing.

      • G

        @ dilly

        chomsky went further than that, in an interview with Mark Little about 3 years ago he said that because of Shannon the Irish government was party to the worst breach of international law, namely the crime of aggression which those at Nuremburg went down hard for.

    • wills

      you played the same infantile mind game with me too………….

    • Deco

      Huffnpuffpolly. Don’t worry about holding opinions that might be perceived as non-Irish. You are right to question such categorization, and to live outside.

      But I disagree with your troika. That troika belongs thirty years ago. There is a modern troika. Fighting the troika of thirty years ago is letting the modern troika escape any criticism, so that they can continue in power. So I will try a status report on the three.
      - “non-Catholic” – there is the constitutional right to conscience. The 1937 constitution recognises you as Irish-and if you are Jewish you even get special recognition. Share Ross is Church of Ireland and is the best representative the people have in the Oireachtas. In fact he has a standard of personal integrity and morality that is unmatched. But let’s be intellectually honest about the current predicament. Bashing the Catholic Church in Ireland passes for intellectual status chasing. The is not intellectually honest. The Catholic Church did not cause this problem. They did contribute to some of the centralization mentality in the Irish state. But after the Vatican decided to dismantle their authority, the Irish state went the opposite direction. That is Ireland’s fault not Rome’s. And as we now know, the Churches did a far better job running the hospitals than the HSE. And it cost bugger all.
      In fact, to be fair, the CatholicChurch (and the Protestant Churches also) warned us about the way we were headed. And they were pretty serious. Somewhere between the ads for DIY and apartments in Bulgaria then got dimmed out :) I can remember one incident of an irate Catholic bishop in the West lambasting the prevalent culture of modern Ireland, and the obsession with status. He made a remark about owning shares like as if it was sinful, and indication of human inadequacy. Anybody who took the bishop’s advice, repented and sold their shares would have missed the 80% trouncing of the ISEQ. Hilariously listening to the bishop would have been…er…profitable. On the face of it, appears that the bishop concerned knew far more about the Irish stock exchange than the combined economic brains of Dan McLaughlin, Austin Hughes, Ahern, Ahern’s ministers, and the media. I don’t think helping people get out of shares while the going was good, was his intention. If it was, then clearly Sean Quinn and Seanie Fitz were not listening :)))) This was a real shock, the Catholic Church was now the only public opposition that the establishment in Ireland had. It was like the 1800s again. And let’s face it Fr. Sean Healy is the only real egalitarean left in Irish public life ! Though I expect Joe Higgins to come back soon. Unlike the Drumcondra socialist, the Rev. Healy can remember every penny he ever got, and can clearly remember never winning anything on the horse races. He never gets any digouts. Shane Ross is the best patriot I know today in Irish life. So membership of the Catholic Church is not required to define oneself as Irish.

      “non-GAA”. Well the GAA are sort of agnostic with respect to debacle. The can claim to be more Irish than the other two. And they can claim to have done the least damage. The GAA were involved in the culture of nepotism in Irish life – as much as the FAI were, but far less that rugger or golf. But I will not blame the GAA for the current economic mess. In theory the GAA is above economics, in practice it gets invovled but with a community objective. The GAA did more that any other organization to “communitize” the new communities forming in Deckland. Compared to the FAI, the GAA are a meritocratic, democratic, transparent, accountable organization. And we need Ireland to head in that direction. But membership of/support for the GAA is not required to be Irish. And the GAA says that you do not have to be Irish to be in the GAA – and have clubs in other countries. I would be more concerned about the FF led sports patriotism and it’s linkage with the crooks in the FAI.

      non-FF. My heart tells me to use expletitives – my head tells me it is better to deconstruct them with hard facts. FF, and the FF mix of bureacratic socialism and crony capitalism has bankrupted Ireland. In every sense of the word. FF were once a real tool for improving Ireland. But there was an internal coup in 1979 that destroyed FF fovever.

      The History of Ireland since independence, to date, comes in two volumes –
      i) before Haughey influenced matters, and
      ii) after Haughey influenced matters. We are now entering Volume Three of the History of Ireland since independence –
      iii) cleaning up Ireland after Haughey infleunced matters.

      In the next decade we will may sewers named after members of the north Dublin maFFia.

      Just like you have stood ‘outside the tent’ for the traditional Irishness definition – I am here pondering the modern version. What is the troika that constitute the unreproachable in present day Ireland ?

      i) Alcohol. Excessive unhealthy levels of alcohol consumption. What you don’t drink – are you Irish or what ? let’s celebrate (without any reason being necessary). stag weekend in Bratislava/Newcastle. the health of the minister for health. The A&E wards. etc..

      ii) Pride. signing up to the Irish pride dictum – you know, going around in a foreign land telling everybody that you are Irish and this means something of significance. “Proud to be Irish”. Social class/status. Ownership of the most toys. What Dermot Morgan used to mimic in his “Mr.Nausea” sketches. He obviously seen it all coming.

      iii) Belief in authority. Official Ireland. I heard it on the Gerry Whine show. Obedience to all the hype. Believing all the nonsense of “official Ireland”…you know what i mean….’property prices go up for ever’, ‘BoI is rock solid’, ‘the country is in safe hands’.

      Dissenting from the traditional troika is easy – and therefore they are no longer a force to be reckoned with. When people are boasting about it then it is over. A bit like being a capitalist in Moscow these days.

      But dissent from the modern troika is very difficult to achieve. This website is full of people who have dissented from the new troika. There are vested interests working to preserve the power of the modern troika in a way that is far more sinister than the old troika could ever have imagined.

      • huffnpuffpolly

        Deco and friends
        Huffnpuff didn’t leave the site because she was upset about any finger-pointing. She just realised that there was little of interest to her on the site. Furrylugs likes teachers and guards. So what, I like some of them too and my kids ahd some excellent teachers, as had I, but there were DUDs too. They are a very strong interest group and some of them think the world owes them living – I think short days and 4 months holidays makes up for a lot of the aggro. Over the years they have negotiated or assumed more and more time off.

        Vote for Ganley as a protest but I’d suggest that ye might regret getting what ye want. If he wants to be a public figure I want to know where he got his money and how he financed the anti-Lisbon referendum. Stay private and I don’t care how much money he has or how he got it.

        I’m back for one last time because of this asinine comment by Deco.
        Where did you get the impression that I hold anti-irish views. I said I grew up in an environment which was non-catholic, non-gaa and non FF and as our formative years have a large influence on our development, I mentioned this solely in recognition of the possibility that it could skew my objectivity, without my being aware of it..
        I have no more problem with the catholic church than I have with CofI or any group that believe in a supernatural being. I have enormous respect for the GAA and I love rugby and I play golf. I have an objective (I think) disregard for FF and I’m not sure the alternative is any better. I believe belief in a supernatural being is a pernicious influence on human thought and development. I abhor the fact that the hierarchies of both main churches fight tooth and nail for segregated education for young children from the age of four so that they can maintain influence on their “flock”. As for Shane Ross I think he would be the last person to argue that he has always been a paragon of virtue. He is kinda in vogue at the moment and yes he is one of my senators as are David Norris and Ivan Bacik, the latter is a secular humanist.
        Who is blaming the church and the gaa for the mess?? Certainly not me.
        You say the church is an easy target. I guarantee you Obama would not have been elected as US President if he said he did not believe in “that supernatural being”. Look at the meeting on euthanasia that had to be cancelled in Cork because of the chanting of the rosary. But irish style, we practice euthanasia, we just pretend we don’t and that’s fine.
        I happen to agree with the bishops on greed and consumerism but not because they are bishops, simply because on this one, they’re right. I wouldn’t agree with everything the host of this site says either, but he’s got it right on some issues. However, anybody who understands currency markets should shudder at the idea of leaving the Euro. Speculators, here come the Irish.
        Support any protest, even if it has no merit. Just get rid of what we have. Madness as a method of progress. Let’s have a hospital in Bantry and every other small town and then whinge because they’re not world class instead of trying to work out good A&E procedures locally while we have the Centres of Excellence for serious illnesses.
        Now. education. Just in the same way as we think we are a beautifuuly complex people, we think we have a wonderful education system.. We don’t. We have no pre-school. We have a two tier system. Amazing how all the protestant schools ahve become so popular with middle class catholics. A friend of mine sent her children to Wesley and she couldn’t believe how much Bible study they did. Trinity and UCD have their problems but they still attract the top students. A friend of mine lectures in Maynooth and cannot get over how uninterested the students are, no fire and no revolution.
        And I don’t believe you can blame FF and banks and developers. They are simply part of the society we live in and most in the same positions would have done exactly what they did.

        So lads, it’s a change of culture we need. Stop admiring the cute hoor, and start admiring intergrity and responsibility and evaluate what people do, not just it’s a protest so let’s support it. And stop admiring yourselves, we saw it first. I’ve a degree in economics and I’ve no idea how NAMA will pan out and neither do you guys. By the way, Brian Lucey and Breiffne O’Brien were in the same class in Trinity – just thought that was an interesting aside.

        That’s it now. Unsuscribed.

        • Ah, that would be unsubscribed.
          A pity to lose that fiestyness.
          The Moon Wobble strikes again.
          All your fault John.

          • Quick point on Bantry Hospital.
            If you have to travel by ambulance from Castletownbere to Cork regional hospital, you’ve travelled halfway to Dublin. And you’re probably heading for the morgue when you arrive.
            Big little country this.

          • huffnpuffpolly

            That is exactly why I am arguing as I am. I admit there is a timing issue with regard to services. We should have the 24 clinics up and running and proper A&E facilities before they close the hospitals. But serious illness should be treated in these new Centres of Excellence. With A&E stabilise the patient and then get them to the Main Hospital. But the argument isn’t about closing the hospitals.


          • I know it’s not but when you see the inability of people in power to effect change, it’s disheartening. Thats why I’ll concentrate on an important local issue where I might be able to make a difference.
            The minute a viable new leader appears, I’ll get right back on the national scene.
            I was building hospitals in the UK when the “Modern Matron” system was established in an attempt to get away from the mess of non medicos managing the system. Things have actually improved generally speaking in the UK health services.
            If the CoE’s adopt a similar patient focussed ethos, we could be getting somewhere.

  25. Deco

    I have here are report from Davy Stockbrokers dated 5 Feb titled “Irish Banks”. Unfortunately the one private Irish financial sector economist in Ireland who predicted the property collapse, Robbie Kellehir is not listed as an editor of this. Davy were previously owned by the Bank of Ireland – and they are still in business with BoI – so there are potential conflicts of interest in the reports on the Irish banking sector coming from Davy. But in any case I found something interesting, and I think that everyone should know about this.

    Some interesting details at the end of the document.
    1) Alied Irish Banks : Major Shareholders (in AIB)
    Capital Group 5%. Fidelity Investments 5%. AIB plc & subsidiaries 4.7%. Irish Life Investment Mrs. 3.1%. Franklin Templeton 3%.

    2) Bank of Ireland : Major Shareholders(in BoI)
    Harris Associates LP 9.2%.Bank of Ireland Asset Management 3% AIB & AIB susubsidiaries 2.4%.

    3) Irish Life & Permanent Major shareholders (in ILP)
    FMR Corp 4.5% Standard Life Assurance 4.5% Morgan Staley 4.3% Capital Group 4.1% Cominvest Asset Mgt 4%.

    It is clear that AIB owns shares in AIB, and also shares in BoI. BoI has invested money from it’s pension arm in BoI. And ILP has invested money from it’s pensions arm into AIB. This is an incestuous banking environment. These banks cannot be expected to compete with each other. Even without all the golf -club camaraderie and the rugger socialization.

    Where is the competition authority ? Currently, we are in the midst of a massive financial crisis. But the Competition Authority have not done anything concerning this type of conflict of interest. Neither has the Competition Authority done anything about the level of market rigging and price fixing going on in Ireland with respect to retailing. Even though we have a serious cost competitiveness problem, it seems as if IBEC has managed to keep the Competition Authority away from interfering with it’s members. I went researhing to see what the Competition Authority are currently doing. I did manage to find out that Dairygold in Cork sold the right to their brands to Kerry Foods. This resulted in the Competition Authority getting it’s operations into gear and going to the courts to reverse this. They are extremely worked up about Kerry’s control of brandnames for cheese. It is clear that the Irish Competition Authority are determined to prove that they are more than just a quango full of wasters and nepotist. In fact they are showing how aggressive and nasty they can be. Cheese is a serious business. Guinness might make every beer in your pub, and Denis O’Brien might have influence in three quarters of the news media, but the Competition Authority has it’s knickers in a twist over cheese. So I did more research. I wanted to know who much of a monopoly Kerry and Dairygold were having on the Irish cheese markets. And I came across this.
    Even if Kerry Group controlled these cheese brands it would still have to fight tooth and nail for market share with Glanbia. We can only assume that Glanbia would fight back for any market share lost with the tenacity and skill of a Kilkenny hurler. Afterall Kilkenny people are serious about their hurling, and seem to be equally serious about their cheese. I can’t imagine Kilkenny wanting to be number 2 in cheese any less than I can imagine them wanting to yield to their competitors in other areas. This all makes this exercise by the Competition authority futile.

    Or maybe it is not so futile. Maybe it is part of an act of the Competition Authority – an act called “maintaining the pretence” that there really is a competition authority in Ireland. Because as far as I can see, there is none. And Eddie Hobbs insinuated as much in 2003. And he got downgraded by RTE as a result to limit his influenced. So as to put manners on him for sneering that clown John O’Donoghue and Ditherer.

    This exercise by the Competition Authority is to all practical purposes obviously absurd. The vast majority of Irish cheese is exported. I can still have choice in the cheese market. And I have no idea what the brand is on the cheese on my pizza-brand name does not matter half as much as the taste. Irish Cheese is nominally of more concern to UK consumers than Irish consumers, because we export so much cheese. In consideration of the level of price fixing in Ireland – why do we have this obsession with the relatively irrelevant ?

    It is like as if the Competition Authority is letting the big and influential in Ireland do as they please, and apply the full weight of their fiercesome wrath on a bunch of farmers in Kerry/West Cork. Kind of obvious who did not go to the school/Trinners with Ross O’Carroll Kelly. Kerry Foods are one of the best managed companies in Ireland. They have an advantage over all other ISEQ listed companies – they are not weighed down with overpaid patrician parasites like Burrows and David Drumm, and their pals. They have an above average tendency to be meritocratic for Irish business. To balance things up companies outside the fold, get closely supervision from the state authorities. Ireland is clearly a corrupt society. And the Competition Authority are clearly part of it.

    I have always believed that the Irish Competition Authority is an official body that takes responsibility for a serious area of national policy, and makes sure that it is nothing happens. Most of you probably agree. Well, I would not know were it not for Senator Shane Ross. But this is widespread across the Irish state system. Effectively, the Competition Authority makes sure that over vast swathes of Irish commerce, that competition policy can be ignored,and that it is business as usual. Market rigging will not be interrupted. And if consumers find a way around the market rigging, Mary Hannifin will remndthem of their patriotic duty to support the price fixers. It would be more accurate to rename it the IBEC freindly Competition Authority of Ireland ? IBEC want competition to bring down the cost of nurses – but no competition in respect to the prices that business can charge consumers in Ireland.

    Maybe I have been wrong here. Maybe it is not the responsibility of the Competition Authority. Which leaves us to wonder – whose responsibility would it be to ensure clean competition between the banks ? The Central Bank of Ireland maybe ? Or maybe it is our old pals in the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority ? Oh, yeah those lads in IFRSA again. An awful lot of things manage to work their way back to them. Interesting that the IFRSA seems to be at the bottom of a lot of “issues”. In fact the IFRSA are even lazier and more arbitrary than the Competition Authority.

    It is clear from the cross shareholding that there could not possibly be a competitive climate between Irish banks. Even without consideration of the fact that they all live within the same district, and that they send their kids to same schools to ‘network. Maybe the egos of bank managers require them to fight for deals. But this is exactly the type of incestous arrangement that prevails. And even in a crisis it is not being questioned. Hilarously enough, with the taxpayer now a 90% plus shareholder of ANIB, and a 25% plus shareholder of AIB and BoI, it get’s even more complicated. Plus INBS is trying to get nationalized (they will go bankrupt otherwise, and all the mates of Fingers will be on the dole). Oh yeah, and the EBS hoping to merge with ILP. That was after the EBS failed to sell itself to Rabo/ACC. Well, it sounds like one big happy family. This is very dangerous for the It getting a bit absurd.

    And now we have NAMA. In consideration of the performance of all the other quangos, we will need an appropriate term for NAMA. So this is the best I can come up with for now.

    Not Another Mismanagement Agency. Because we can no longer afford taxpayer funded Mismanagement Agencies !!!! By now we all well accustomed to a pattern. When state agencies fail, the minister agglomerates them into a new state agency. Same wasters in positions of authority. New name on the plate. And the nonsense continues as before.

    We need massive institutional reform. But before this becomes possible, we need to intellectually change our approach to institutions. So that we will have

    • Deco

      The point I am making is this. We are a society where the state and business have become diseased with each other’s corruption, nepotism and incompetence. This does not eminate from factory floor workers, bank tellers or nurses. This all eminates from the management elites and layers. The Irish culture of authority and management is based on flawed principles.

      We must rip it asunder, and build anew. The best example that I can find is the task that faced Douglas MacArthur when he became virtual Prime Minister and Supreme Court of Japan in 1945. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_MacArthur#Post.E2.80.93World_War_II_Japan

      MacArthur described his objectives as ruler of Japan, and his legacy thus
      “The Japanese people since the war have undergone the greatest reformation recorded in modern history. With a commendable will, eagerness to learn, and marked capacity to understand, they have from the ashes left in war’s wake erected in Japan an edifice dedicated to the supremacy of individual liberty and personal dignity, and in the ensuing process there has been created a truly representative government committed to the advance of political morality, freedom of economic enterprise, and social justice”

      Well, Ireland needs a similar process. The danger is that we will become embroiled in many patriotic cul-de-sacs that shall prevent it from occurring.

      • liam

        Great comments. Is there a circular argument going on in this and other comments?
        To get buy-in from the people requires a government with the imagination and vision to take the people with them, which we wont have until the people elect a government with imagination and vision….

        Here’s one from the IT along the same lines as your post:

        MacArthur entered a country that had been not only utterly devastated, but was undergoing yet another in a series of fundamental political upheavals since the US Navy arrived, gun ports open, in Yokohama in 1865. It was/is also a nation that culturally place a high value on hard work and everybody pulling together.

        I suppose we could take the example of Japan: declare war on the US and hope that once they have finished firebombing every major town in Ireland, they will send Steve Jobs over to be the new Taoiseach, Tánaiste and President combined.

        • Deco

          The article in the IT proposes a “grand ecole” or something to drive the reform. This concerns me. Another state institution. A sort of a quango in charge of the education of people who will staff quangos. Such a body would have a dangerous level of power on the nation’s institutions – and I do not see any gaurantee that it would bring an improvement. If anything, it would result in a revised form of the same incompetences, and fraudulent practices that exist today. It would be a magnet for the most corrupt elements in Irish society. But even more alarmingly it would be dependent on state financing administered by political patronage or by commercial interests. And it could be result in an even tighter centralization of power in Ireland than currently exists. I am also more inclined to look at the US and Germany rather than Switzerland or Sweden. But these countries are far more federalist in their structures than we are. Ireland is a highly centralized state structure. Multiplicity of opinion is treated with absolute derision and suspicion by those in power.

          We need an intellectually aware population so that such centralization of influence is ended. There has been far too much centralization of opinion and influence in Irish society. It would be better if regional universities like Galway and Cork developed a tendency of creating rule-breakers to counter the UCD/Trinners middle class Dublin mindset. And I am talking more than just creating Prof Joe Lee/ Micheal Dee intellectual types or Eamon Gilmore/Pat Rabitte type politicians. We need the potential for proper intellectual debate. I don’t see any in the Dail – except when Richard Bruton challenges Lenihan.

          I propose an intellectual development amongst the people – or a set of principles of evaluation of public institutions for the benefit of the common citizen. This would demand transparency of the state’s institutions particularly all of these quangos.

          • liam

            True enough, the Grand Ecole idea might have some flies on it, but the basic idea of creating a political elite that actually knows what it is doing, as well as generally raising the bar in Irish education is a good one. Internationalising our education beyond a few Erasmus places is an even better one. (for example Richard Bruton studied at Oxford and at a college that is noted for its specialism in economics). University education profoundly influences character and can turn raw talent in to effective and focused energy.

            We have a handful of Universities worthy of the name and there is not one single institution in Ireland remotely in the same class as Oxford, Cambridge, MIT, Stanford, Yale… especially in the area of post-graduate education and research (but some outstanding example specialisms, such as the Tyndall Centre, UCC). So why not try to partner with them and learn from their ethos? It doesn’t need yet another quango, just funding and then let the Universities do what they do best.

            Encourage SFI to partner with EPSRC, NSF/NIH, set up a few fellowships/scholarships etc, lots of ways to do it, but mostly people-oriented stuff works best.

          • Deco

            In the age of the internet – is it possible to think beyond institutions ?? We are in the midst of sweeping technological changes, and perhaps the need for an institution is of secondary importance – human qualities and a body of knowledge is all that is required to create better administration. Institutions tend to become infested with all sorts of problems, and tend to be more interested in their own significance and less interested in responding to people’s needs.

          • liam

            I’m not sure what you are suggesting. If you’re saying that institutions such as universities are redundant because of the internet, you couldn’t be more wrong. Where do you think that knowledge base you refer to will come from in the first place? Just because we currently don’t do it well doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to be better, or can’t be better.

          • Deco

            Liam – I am not willing to give a blank cheque to our universities. In fact I am an absolute critic of Irish University education.

            Some of them are doing a very good job. NUI, Maynooth did wonders and are probably the top science university on the island. NUIM would have got bugger all funding compared to the Dublin Universities. Yet the biggest advantage that NUIM had was that it was ignored by the centralized bureacracy of the Irish state. NUIM is the university of Deckland as David McW would say. They are beside Intel and HP. NUIM are testimony to David’s theory about the dynamism of Ireland moving westwards into Deckland. Now NUIM do not have a name for producing lawyers, dentists, pharmacists, litreature graduates, state administrators, etc.. In fact NUIM seemed to have completely ignored all these status obsessed professional areas. NUIM does not do medicine – except in terms of researchers for new products. NUIM with it’s small budget realised that chasing these areas was of no benefit to society. NUIM needed to get concentrate resources on a few areas where they could preserve their role in the Irish university system. And NUIM decided that they would operate in their own niche. NUIM actually thought competitively about the third level sector, and decided that NUIM would step into the future, instead of being stuck in the past (which is what both TCD and UCD have been good at). NUIM got the Intel project and bet a lot of international competition. But should we really be surprised. NUIM is located in an area where everybody wants to work in technology. NUIM realised it’s duty to it’s hinterland. NUIM does not brandish notions about supplying the directors of most of the companies on the ISEQ, or filling the law library like Trinners and Belfield. NUIM has something more local, more down to earth, humble ambitions in mind. A simple objective. And they are winning at that simple objective.

            How effective have NUIM been ? Well they forced TCD and UCD to merge their clout to continue getting state funding. This does not impress me. It shows that TCD and UCD think that getting state funding comes from politics and muscle rather than intelligence application of existing funding. The official PR statements on the matter indicated that it was “in the interests of improved scale”. Wow. I reckon they have the scale equation incorrect. I reckon they should be operating at a smaller scale.

            In the early 2000s, the OECD examined the Irish university education system. They ranked the universities. The winner would see much bragging in middle-class Dublin. And then the result. A real shocker. The OECD allocated NUI Galway as Ireland’s top university. Now, to an extent this makes perfect sense. The more Atlantic you get in Ireland, the more serious people are about education. Scarce resources, make resourceful people. This must have been shock to TCD and UCD. It was common knowledge that graduates from these universities got more kudos in interviews. But suddenly, after the OECD assessed the usefulness of graduates over a long term – the OECD thumped the big two to such an enormous extent – in fact I think they were even raned below their Northside rival DCU. Now there are lot of people from these universities who parrot endlessly about the quality of Irish education, and then land you with the assumption that because they are from the big two – they are creme de la creme. Well private industry might not always think so. In any case the OECD definitely doesn’t.

            Unfortunately, both TCD and UCD really are missing the point. They are concerned about a funding. They have been pampered like spoiled brats for decades while the others lived off a shoe-string. But funding is not what makes a university – it is the intellectual standards to which it operates. TCD and UCD are being outmanoevred by smaller, smarter, more nimble competitors. They are losing intellectually. Giving less funding to other universities results in the other universities sharpening their focus and getting more intelligent in their outlook. Giving more funding to TCD/UCD could easily be an accomodation of the existing institutional malaise.

            Apart from that I have a fundamental question. What is the good of this “education” that is being delivered in third level in Ireland ? For the last twenty years we have heard this refrain “bright, highly educated workforce”. It was an awful lot of self praise. Yet this generation has now made bigger mistakes than an any previous generation – and quite possibly more mistakes as well. In one dimension this confident, “educated” generation has failed abysmally. They have shown limited ability to think critically. Instead we get all sorts of crowd thinking. They have rushed like lemmings into every form of financial and many forms of nonfinancial stupidity. To an extent that never existed previously. They might have degrees in finance – but they bought houses that they will never pay for. The greatest generation is seized by the results of some extremely stupid decision making. Interestingly enough the worst decision making seems to have happened in the capital, especially in the suburbs with the highest participation rate in third level education. “Educated” people took risks with leverage whilst their less well educated peers walked away from. The problem was that nobody taught the educated people the value of scepticism or independent judgement. In effect, they have proven to be more sheepish than average !! In fact the result of their education was that they seemed to absolved themselves from having to need any common sense !!! The problem with common sense over the past decade, was that it became too…..common. It was frowned upon.

            I think our third level education system in aggregate is generally over-rated. And we have overrated ourselves intellectually. This self-praise/pride drive has resulted in some pretty stupid decision making by Ireland over the last ten years. We better address this quickly. Because we cannot afford to lose in this area. The competition is getting very good. India in particular is going to give Ireland very heavy competition. The performance of the Irish Third level sector over the last ten years has indicated, that the way forward has been charted by the smaller universities and not the big two with their constant preoccupation with getting most of the pie for themselves, and keeping the others down. This is a very Irish way of going on – and we should recognize it for the problems it hides as well as the problems it causes.

          • liam

            Thanks Deco. You raise some interesting points that I feel I must refute in the spirit of healthy debate :)

            > I am not willing to give a blank cheque to our universities. In fact I am an absolute critic of Irish University education.

            I’m not suggesting that at all but perhaps that wasn’t clear. NIH, NSF, EPSRC etc all have state mandated agendas, but it is academics ultimately who recommend where spending is made on the granular scale by anonymously peer-reviewing (with additional independent oversight) each and every funding application. That is what I mean by letting them do what they do best. The last thing you need in any context is a bunch of non-experts telling the experts what their business is, whether its in public Universities or independent research institutes. So +1 for no more quangos for sure.

            > NUIM realised it’s duty to it’s hinterland. NUIM does not brandish notions about supplying the directors of most of the companies on the ISEQ, or filling the law library like Trinners and Belfield. NUIM has something more local, more down to earth, humble ambitions in mind. A simple objective. And they are winning at that simple objective.

            Well, good luck to them. However, humble ambitions produce humble results. If all they want to do is produce salarymen for HP and Intel as you suggest then that seems a bit of a waste (and pragmatically: isn’t this what the former RTC’s are for? they’re quite good at it too, so why fund NUIM at all!?), and I think probably misrepresents the strategic ambition of an institution that claims to be”…committed to being a first class research-led centre of learning and academic discovery”

            > How effective have NUIM been ? Well they forced TCD and UCD to merge their clout to continue getting state funding.

            Correlation != Causation. Its very clear that research funding in the industrialised world, from the state, private industry and charities is directed at areas that encompass broad disciplines and know-how. It is fast becoming clear also that single maverick academics building up individual research portfolios is an out dated model when it comes to securing major funding. The research challenges faced today are multi-disciplinary and often the right cllection of expertise is not found in a single institution let alone a single Department/Faculty. UCD and TCD are the highest ranked Universities in Ireland when it comes to research so it makes perfect sense for them to partner on funding applications. The same pattern can be found across the developed world of peer institutions, leveraging their collective talents to secure funding, examples in Europe and the US and UK in particular are too numerous to mention. It therefore makes sense for Irish institutions to partner with each other and also their peers outside of Ireland. Their geographical proximity is also helpful (and in fact maybe the next LUAS line should go from Belfield, with one stop only on College Green and on up to Ballymun. We’ll call it “The Brain Train”).

            >In the early 2000s, the OECD examined the Irish university education system. They ranked the universities….

            OK, just let me stop you there. Universities have two functions: education and research. The OECD rankings are biased towards teaching and exactly as you say, fitness for employment. Well, if some in private industry had their way, universities would not teach critical thought or examination of anything beyond the narrow business concerns of their field of interest. The balance between teaching people a narrow set of Skills, versus teaching people How To Learn by focusing on developing their critical faculties and abilities (PRECISELY the qualities you are calling for in people) is an argument that has been around since the time of John Henry Newman. However, if you will, take look at the THES or Shanghai Jiao Tong university rankings (the most widely referenced rankings), you will find that the top ranked Universities in those lists (Harvard, Stanford, Yale, MIT, Cambridge, Princeton, Oxford, UCL, ICL, Cal.Tech etc…) are also the ones that are the best funded and attract the most investment in collaborative industry research and co-located industry research labs. They are also the institutions with the most successful technology transfer offices, the most spin-outs and startups, are generally at the heart of economically vibrant regions, and produce the most sought-after graduates This suggests that industry values something other than teaching alone and significantly so, and that the OECD approach is flawed. Prior to a career in the private sector, I spent the last few years working in business development for an institution on that list. This is something I did out of choice, not necessity. It was an eye opening experience. I had the opportunity to speak to senior folks in major multi-nationals who partnered with us, and I can tell you they are _very_ clear on the importance of their relationships with universities to their individual businesses and their collective industries, and why they work with us (and sometimes with the other guys and sometimes with none of the above).

            > Unfortunately, both TCD and UCD really are missing the point. They are concerned about a funding.

            I beg to differ!!! there is not an educational institution in history that did not come in to existence and sustain itself without patronage.

            > They have been pampered like spoiled brats for decades while the others lived off a shoe-string. But funding is not what makes a university – it is the intellectual standards to which it operates. TCD and UCD are being outmanoevred by smaller, smarter, more nimble competitors. They are losing intellectually. Giving less funding to other universities results in the other universities sharpening their focus and getting more intelligent in their outlook. Giving more funding to TCD/UCD could easily be an accomodation of the existing institutional malaise.

            Could be but first off.. one thing: I studied at neither TCD nor UCD, and I’m certainly not here to defend them, but I am a firm believer that funding should go to where the best talent is. Perhaps they are comparatively better off because they already have “a sharper focus and a more intelligent outlook” than their competitors. Perhaps also Ireland is only capable of sustaining at most one or two (national) top-tier universities. I hear this a lot:

            Q: “why is it always [insert University] that gets all the money for [insert research field]?”
            A: Because they are the best, and they work hard to stay that way. Simple (but not easy).

            > Apart from that I have a fundamental question…[etc.]

            Right, so its all the fault of the Universities that the country has gone tits-up? I think that’s been discussed enough here already so there is no need for me to refute this claim. Apart from this sounding like an anti-intellectual rant that is short on specifics, can I point two out to you:

            David McWilliams (TCD) a product of the system you rail against
            Prof Morgan Kelly (UCD) a practitioner within the system you rail against.

            > I think our third level education system in aggregate is generally over-rated. [etc.]

            Well, that’s competition and it is A Good Thing. The alternative is to spread resources ‘fairly’ or in other words, so thin that they are ineffective. The worst kind of social engineering.

            I’m not sure why you have such a fire in your belly about the Universities (or maybe its institutions in general) nor why we both have done that typical annoying Irish thing of starting on one topic and ending up on a completely different one, but can I end with this re the OP:

            What could, with some imagination, be the NAMA theme song:



      • wills


        You are on a roll and am with you all the way,….

  26. Aidan

    There is only one way out of this mess and that is to become COMPETITIVE
    No one will buy over priced goods or services of us not even out fellow overpaid countrymen as can be seen by the number of people shopping in NI.
    Now this is where reality really does bite because the reality is that a teacher in Sweden earns 44% less and works 20% longer than a teacher here, you may jump up and down at that fact maybe the teacher in Sweden has a better standard of living on there salary although their unlikely to have to many Croatian investment properties but i may be wrong.
    Now whether we like it or not someone has to earn the money to pay for all of our overpaid public service and to do that, that someone has to provide goods or services at a COMPETITIVE PRICE nothing more nothing less.

  27. huffnpuffpolly


    I agree about Irish culture of authority and management but I’m not sure Japanese culture is dedicated to individual liberty.

    I believe we have to start with education and I’m not convinced we are educating people. We are preparing a work force. How do we get wise women? into positions of power and leadership.

    • Deco

      With respect to education – it is too important to be left to the Department of Education and O’Keefe. There is a body of thought in Fianna Fail and the Irish Labour Party that wants a Education equivalent of the HSE – Hanafin said as much before she was relocated to Social Welfare. She cluelessly thought she had the right idea. This is also an issue which is too important to be left to the media – which is not representative of the people, or of the interests of the people. The media has got the boom wrong – and they are playing games that are mostly about preserving their own circulation and the advertiser’s penny.

      Rather than interfering with the education system and playing with kids futures – I think it would be better to discuss the issue amongst the adult part of the population which is responsible for the nation’s direction. So it is a simple as this – we need to train ourselves to be intellectual about the state of affairs in this country, in particular with respect to state institutions. And then we will improve the intellectual capacity of the nation in this regard. And then reform will surely follow. The media will try to divert and suppress progress in this regard. Therefore we must ignore the media. The internet, and social contact.

      • liam

        Why not go down the UK route for education, with DIUS and BERR specifically having economic and social agendas inputting to education policy? Oh wait, we have no policies….

  28. zohan

    Get real people.We can’t afford our public service.Salaries need to be cut by40-50%.Sack them all and let them re-apply for their new lower paid job .If they don’t want to work for this amount there are thousands of people here willing to do it and thousands more from other countries just waiting…
    Sack the HSE and give control of the hospitals to the nuns ! They will have it back in shape in no time.
    Let the banks fail that are no good.Good ones will come.Forget the skip cos we will be taken for another ride.
    Why do we do so much for unmarried mothers?Most are still with their partners and living free …Welfare state is gone off the rails….Why do politicians earn so much ?They do sod all and end up with the huge pension…..It’s just a friggan job.Get someone with a little bit of energy to do it cheaper and better !
    People get real.

  29. huffnpuffpolly

    Dec and Liam,
    Liam, I think you’re saying we have the government we as a people deserve and if you are, I agree. I’m just afraid the current generation is lost but I would agree if we can get an intellectual debate going we should try. I’m just not sure we can get most people to recognise the nature of the state and how our actions contribute. 90% of irish people would behave the same way as those in positions of power if they were in the same position. I agree with you Dec about the media, the level of debate and the trite repitition of supposed truth is annoying. I’m not so sure about only state institutions; poor ethics and untruths are endemic in business and law.

    • Hello huffnpuffpolly.
      Now. Welcome and about time we had someone with a more imaginative handle than mine.
      I don’t know if you have happened upon the site or have been watching from afar for some time but no matter.
      Still welcome and more with you with a bit of luck. We had become too male middle class. ~Grunting about what we were grunting about. And we are right to grunt. BTW.
      On intellectual debate, we here have been consistently more accurate than official estimates for quite some considerable time. Another viewpoint as you’ve expressed adds to the clamour for change.
      Everyone will groan now but I’m going to point you to Article 45 of our Constitution for your comment.
      The principles of social policy set forth in this Article are intended for the general guidance of the Oireachtas. The application of those principles in the making of laws shall be the care of the Oireachtas exclusively, and shall not be cognisable by any Court under any of the provisions of this Constitution.

      1. The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the whole people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice and charity shall inform all the institutions of the national life.
      2. The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing:–
      1. That the citizens (all of whom, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood) may through their occupations find the means of making reasonable provision for their domestic needs.
      2. That the ownership and control of the material resources of the community may be so distributed amongst private individuals and the various classes as best to subserve the common good.
      3. That, especially, the operation of free competition shall not be allowed so to develop as to result in the concentration of the ownership or control of essential commodities in a few individuals to the common detriment.
      4. That in what pertains to the control of credit the constant and predominant aim shall be the welfare of the people as a whole.
      5. That there may be established on the land in economic security as many families as in the circumstances shall be practicable.
      1. The State shall favour and, where necessary, supplement private initiative in industry and commerce.
      2. The State shall endeavour to secure that private enterprise shall be so conducted as to ensure reasonable efficiency in the production and distribution of goods and as to protect the public against unjust exploitation.
      1. The State pledges itself to safeguard with especial care the economic interests of the weaker sections of the community, and, where necessary, to contribute to the support of the infirm, the widow, the orphan, and the aged.
      2. The State shall endeavour to ensure that the strength and health of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children shall not be abused and that citizens shall not be forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their sex, age or strength.

      My point is that , though we grunt and mutter away, do we have a Constitution or not?
      If not, what are we?
      If we do, the way forward is clear.
      The President cannot sign NAMA into law.

      Too much for too little for so Few.

      • huffnpuffpolly

        Furrylogs – Thanks for the welcome and I had read nothing except the bad debts could turn out good so I just spent half an hour whizzing through a few other blogs and some of the comment is in my ‘humble opinion’ very good and some is just smart-ass nonsense and some just shows that people don’t read the words that are in front of their eyes or if they read the words they jumble them up in their brain and get the wrong end of the stick. I have no political affililiation. I would say I have some inherent inclination to the idea of a “just society” and in my youth would have gravitated towards marxism. I still think Marx had a lot of valuable insight on work, exploitation, and alienation in the productive process but I do not believe in his linear evolution to a harmonious society which doesn’t need government. I am currently reading Chantal Mouffe and I think her antagonistic hegemony has some merit. We will always have elites because any vacuum will be filled by some group. But how do we control the elites so that they do not grasp all of societies goods to themselves?

        This is why markets do not work if left to their own devices. They must be seriously regulated, not just lip service. I agree with Malcolm McClure that costs matter, incentives matter, etc. but his conclusion is that socialism doesn’t deal efficiently with these matters. My answer is neither does capitalism and what does the ESB have to do with socialism?

        Dilly seems to think if you read Chomsky you cannot vote in a certain manner. I’m an atheist and I read the Bible. I couldn’t be described as right-wing and I watch FOX News..

        I think our Constitution is/was well intentioned but it needs serious revision. I could never be a judge or president as I would have to swear an oath about “some supernatural being” that I do not believe in. is there any comment on the judges not being included in the pension levy. My question here is if judges’ salaries remain at current levels and say the government introduces a 50% tax rate, can the judges refuse to pay taxes on the grounds that it would reduce their salaries?

        With regard to Art. 45 the language is a bit outdated and “charity” isn’t a word that sits well with me but there’s no doubt that Art 45 is well-intentioned. It’s just that our learned friends’ interpretation has always erred on the side of private property and I think they will continue to do so.

        I’m not sure the one human/one vote is a good way to elect our leaders in the media age. Only property owners and men could vote some years ago, then everyone go the vote. Now let’s go one further. Elites have power and influence so remove them from the vote to even up the scores. If they think the vote is so important they give up a certain amount of their assets so that they can vote???????

        Isn’t part of our problem that we admire Paddy the Builder – the cute hoor?
        This is the culture change we need. I’m a boring old fart, I admire responsibility and integrity. That’s not to say I wouldnt’d put 100 euro on a horse – but each way.

        We need to teach people to think and I don’t mean give them the answers but at least that most people can give some sort of coherent reason as to why they vote in a certain way or wht they want from society and yes have a slightly more long-term view.

        As I said I’ve nevr voted for FF but I would vote for them before I would vote for Declan Ganly so I’d be a bit scared that the pssst off will vote for him.
        And Tim isn’t FF that same party whose illustrious leader raised money in America nad it ended up in the De Valera family business. The “irish” in San Francisco terrified me, they were locked into a vision of Ireland that hadn’t developed from the day they left the old sod.

        • huffnpuffpolly
          A rounded replymethinks,
          I’ve taken the liberty to repost this FYI.
          I was decidedly humpy at the time.

          Furrylugs | 13 Apr 2009 11:32 pm

          Whilst preparing to sally forth again in the never ending quest to fill the fridge, a noble cause if ever there was one, a nugget of simple truth decended.

          Shakespeare put it very well;
          “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
          But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
          Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

          We, as many have said, have digested, analysed and expounded. This site, led by DMcW, has consistently forecast what is to be, as far as the information available could be analysed.
          But as many here have said, we have changed nothing. It seems to me that the root cause, something which I have to establish day in day out as part of my livelihood, is staring us in the face.
          It’s not FF, nor Tims FF, nor FG nor even craven independents. Not crooked bankers nor rapacious developers.
          It’s us. The Irish people as a whole. We shuffle from one presented choice to another and never question that presentation. We are duped into submission for reasons that any cosmopolitan, advanced society would find archaic.

          The Black Swan has been alluded to. The Black Swan is the catalyst to cause monumental change in the mindset of the Irish people. Never to accept second rate leaders. Not to accept blindly what is written or said. We are far to susceptible to intellectual harrassment but privately cry out for someone to take the reins of State, someone other than the denizens of the system, currently floating like rancid fat atop the toxic skip of Irish public life.

          “Economy is a distributive virtue, and consists not in saving but selection. Parsimony requires no providence, no sagacity, no powers of combination, no comparison, no judgment.”

          So wrote Edmund Burke in 1796.
          What we have is the ultimate Parsimony, where young girls may die because a simple vaccine is withdrawn but the horse racing fraternity are granted millions on the pretext they represent a viable business.
          They are learning nothing. They still value every aspect of being Irish by money, markets and profit. They will continue to do so.
          Unless a catalyst causes the reaction needed for this country to take the final step to egalitarian freedom.

          To quote Burke again;

          “Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, never can willingly abandon it. They may be distressed in the midst of all their power; but they will never look to any thing but power for their relief. ”

          This comment epitomises the status quo in Ireland for decades.
          To really solve this current threat to our Nationhood, we need to first deal with the question of power and more importantly, to who we entrust that power.
          Our first test will be in eight weeks time.
          I hope we pass that test.

          • wills


            Those in power are those who contol the medium of exchange system.
            Back to a45 again

          • huffnpuffpolly

            What choices do we have. As I said I’d vote for FF before I’d vote for Ganly
            Do you know all 3 MEPs for North- West are teachers?
            I think Robert has kinda’ put me teacher on the mind. He’s so angry.

            Pat kenny was preaching about a “new scappage scheme for cars”?
            Should we throw out our washings machines, dish-washers and televisions as well and buy new ones to keep jobs??

            So tell me who’s good for the local elections or is this forum a bit too public

          • @Wills
            Maybe we should all get a45 t-shirts?
            I kid you not. Publicity is good.

            Declan Ganly has been subject to a fierce disinformation campaign on the one hand but hasn’t effectively dispelled all of the allegation either. The jury is out on that one.
            Personally, I like teachers. Anyone that can put up with todays urchins deserves a bit of time off in lieu.
            Similarly with the Guards. Anyone here want to stick on a uniform and do the closing time patrol unarmed. Not me thanks. Not for that money anyway.
            Firemen have a nasty habit of picking up motercycle helmets at RTAs to find the head still inside. What money erases that memory?

            When the elections come around, since central Government has failed to discharge its community duty under A45, I’ll be voting local for the person I think will do best for the area.
            There’s a lady standing in Cork NW on a “Save Bantry Hospital” platform. She’ll do for me this time.Even if thats the only thing she succeeds with, it’s a vote for something that will maintain local standards.
            If the majority of the country came out from the apathy, forgot Leinster House and voted selfishly for their own area, the place would be upside down.
            And not a child in the house washed.

          • Colin_in_exile


            If we have urchins for children, its the parents fault.

            If heads are inside helmets, one or more roadusers were reckless and its primarily their fault.

            If drunks are making Guards uncomfortable, its the lawmakers fault.

            Nobody is forced to enter those “professions”.

        • wills


          markets are benign,. its human corruption that turns them bad.

          If there be no vacuum then there be no elites., so eliminate vacuums which nature abhors anyway and elites go away..

          • wills

            Q.how to eliminate a vacuum……….

            A.think for yourself, always…

          • huffnpuffpolly

            Human nature is human nature. Accept it.
            We need to nurture the good aspects. There s no Utopia and we will never convince the whole world that the greater good has some merit.
            Look at the few people in senior positions who are willing to take pay-cuts, the two consultants Orla Hardiman and Michael O’Keeffe, Fintan O’Toole, Brian Lucey and don’t knock them, it takes guts to stand against your peer group. Contrast that with the RTE stars who constantly speak of begrudgers. Interesting that Michael used that argument against, I think Colin. The old begrudger argument immediately puts you on the defensive because it implies you’re only complaining because you yourself don’t have it. Sometimes being clever clouds the argument. Do you actually believe we can have no elites or leaders?. Have you ever tried working in a co-operative of just four people. Look how diverse all our opinions are. I’m spending time on the website because I want to hear what people think about society, economics, democracy, power, decision-making.

          • liam

            Wills, I tell you this in the hope that you will learn something from it and think before you open your mouth the next time:

            Markets are not some abstract concept descended from heaven, they were created by humans seeking effective ways in which to trade everything from goat-skins to frozen concentrated orange juice.
            Political elites exist in every grouping of people and in every political system, and the sooner you learn to recognise and accept this the better.

            These are facts of life, fundamental facets of human existence and to try to change any of this is the height of naivety.

  30. Evening All ! , a quick one for all of you who enjoy sums ! , heard today the 80,000,000,000.00 or is it 90,000,000,000.00 is owned by as few as 50 individuals .
    Ireland Inc has the makings of a Block Buster Movie as even the old USA Eron boys have not been as corrupt as our influential

  31. Please send me replies by email. Don’t know how to specify that without actually making a comment, even though I don’t have much to say apart from the general impression that Ireland is doomed. I don’t think huffnpuffpolly was trying to offend anyone Robert. Good luck to one and all in the Emerald Isle, you are going to need it. I might stop reading this blog as its getting too depressing, although in a shallow ‘intellectual’ sense.

  32. Furrylugs – thanks for the information .I have located amazing stories that I believe everyone should read .They are all on Google .The following is among the best I have read and has it’s own Current Active Blogg if you want to participate in.We have been called Slaves albeit ‘white slaves’ and ‘indentured servants ‘ and ‘Redlegs’ and ‘white niggers’ …..and it goes on .Cromwell seems to be the first recorded named ‘Trader’ I can find.

    Colin -in – exile many decendants must live near where you are now.

    The Irish Slave Trade – The Forgotten “White” Slaves
    The Slaves That Time Forgot
    Rasta Livewire
    By John Martin

    • Colin_in_exile


      I don’t live in the USA.

      This is the first I’ve heard of “white niggers”. Are you sure its true? How reliable are the sources?

      If there were Irishwomen interbreeding with African men, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was voluntary. All you have to do is think of Phil Lynott, Paul McGrath, Chris Hughton, Phil Babb etc….and it looks like Nadine Coyle is keeping the trend alive.

  33. Original-Ed

    David, Fianna Fail borrowed more than double speak from Orwell’s 1984 – we’ve had Bertie’s “Ministry of Plenty” and we’re now in the clampdown on information phase. The next phase is the electronic surveillance one and it’s already on it way – very soon, loose talk about Fianna Fail and its leader will have consequences.
    On this Banking bailout – it’s simple arithmetic – give the banks say 50 billion for their 90 billion loan book, they’ll still be under capitalized, so we’ll have to give them at least, a further 30 billion capital injection, private investors wont trust them, to bring them within about 10 billion of the 90 and then it’ll take them about 5 years, at say 2 billion profit per year, to make up that 10 billion. As the performance of NAMA, to recover the debt and fund the capitalisation, is dependent on the performance of the banks and by extension the economy – we’re looking into the abyss.

  34. Garry

    just a quick comment on the article… quick but probably too long …. I dont have time to write a short comment :)

    “This means giving them some ‘hope value’ in the ‘haircut’ they are to take. We have to make a judgment call as to whether we, the taxpayers, represented by the Orwellian NAMA, actually want to operate all the empty hotels and golf courses that will no doubt end up in the skip.”

    I’m not sure the problem is the empty hotels and golf courses that need to be operated.. If it was and the debtors were the characters operating them, then yes the asset can be sweated.

    Im pretty sure the problem is the half built ‘assets’ and the assets for which plans were in train but are now sites, some with nothng done to them. In this case considerable investment needs to happen before the ‘asset’ is ready to sweat….. e.g. a field outside Carlow or Longford town which was to be yet another retail park or housing estate but has grass growing on it right now.

    The value of most of these were their potential…. potential based on continued economic growth etc etc etc… Like Man united buying Ronaldo a few years ago….. But if the world was full of talented speedy wingers, their individual value would drop… the country is full of half built empty estates retail parks etc…. and they are getting emptier

    Bear with me, AIB and BOI were late to the party compared to Anglo yet they got themselves into real trouble very quickly….

    I suspect most of the 90 billion or whatever is potential value using metrics of a bygone economic era, even if it was only 2 years ago.
    It is not real value, and I dont think it matters all that much whether the owners are still motivated or not…
    Keeping them honest would be better

  35. wills


    NAMA is a hired contract liquidator.
    NAMA is hired to liquidate the POnzi Ireland inc evidence.
    National treasury management who will run NAMA is full of bank loyalists.
    NTM and the financial regulator is loaded with brokerage-friendly flunkies.


    NAMA / NTM link up is about keeping the same basic power structure in place at all costs.

    If financial justice is to be administered the authorities would be swarming the banks right now, thumbing through the off balance sheet paperwork,

    overturning filing cabinets and tasering bloated crooked bankers as
    they scuttle away clutching their armani breifcases stuffed with taxpayers loot.

    What we want is regulators and relevant authorities snooping through
    emails and digging through trash to uncover any scrap of evidence
    that will build a case for crooked banking fraud and criminal malfeasence.

    We want the culprits, cutthroats and carpetbaggers dragged in leg
    irons to jail. This is not the time for NAMA pamby weak kneed governing. I call for a general election now.

    A bang up job reigning in reckless property speculators, predatory lending, dubious suspect shady banking-property speculators partnering up and banking boardroom king-pins.

    What we need is an investigation who is responsible for permitting
    the great ‘mortgage swindle’ to keep on going whatever applicants
    had the ability to make the payments or not.

    Why did the Aherne and Cowen admin turn a blind eye to the lending the madness.
    THe gov negligence so egregious and unprecedented it demands
    to be investigated immediately..

    An investigation needs to be opened in relation to possible
    discrimination in mortgage lending by a number of mainstreet banks over the last 15 years and perhaps for the history of this state,
    as part of an overall investigation into the scourge of predatory lending
    practices that have resulted in the impending middle class debt
    solvency meltdown that is on its way.

    Instead of putting the levers of the state and taxpayers money to service
    aid and abet the massive predatory lending bankster POnzi property
    bubble aftermath clean up bill i suggest we should be taking on the
    predatory enablers across the board in the banking community sharkfest
    who made ‘mortgage usury’ their major profit centers.

    An investigation must be called for to find out the fundamental
    accounting structure of the banks and what accounting principles
    were applied in predatory lending practices and if this was a structure that had been designed and orchestrated at the very
    top of the banking private companies and property speculators.

    i.e fudging numbers to make it look like they had stronger balance
    sheets than they actually had? to create the illusion of financial
    strength that was not actually there.
    A fundamental effort to alter the facts and i suggest/ allege decieve to the public….,

    Above is the courses of action we are not witnessing. Instead we
    are mulling on why is the gov taking my money and using it to
    get the bankrobbers and property speculators off the hook.

  36. Ruairi

    Interesting prediction piece for this weekend from Money Morning. Namedropping poor old Ireland as the potential star draw in this weekend’s possible bloodfest surely makes awful reading. Unlikely that it will be us. But perhaps the next turn of the wheel will be reserved for our best shot at infamy

    Vis a Vis Martin Armstrong’s economic models: –

    John Allen, you probably know of this but, if not, will enjoy reading this. Even pragmatists may enjoy weekend-watching to see what pops next !!

  37. wills


    I am not a teacher, but to anyone pointing the finger
    at teachers can i say this…..

    Point your fu@king finger at the guilty….!!!!!

    At least the teachers are standing up for themselves and refusing
    this simpering ah sure we are all in it together manure heap banker

    • huffnpuffpolly

      This is the problem. Everybody standing up for themselves and those who can shout loudest gain most. Have you heard Gerald kean onthe radio supporting the guards. Turns out his father was a guard and he has many clients who are guards. The teachers probably will strike but in general it won’t be for their pupils. it will be for themselves. The Unions have always supported those with the most power and have always supported percentage inreases which favour the better-off. So point your whatever whatever way you want; many teachers are attracted into the profession because of the shorter hours and long holidays and go to any golf club in this country and see how many of them are on the course @ 3.30

      • Colin_in_exile


        Well done. Don’t let anyone here intimidate you.

        Hmmm… you know what, I’ve always fancied enjoying those lazy hazy crazy days of summer, forgetting about having to get up early (ahem I mean for 9 o’clock) to get to work the following morning. Maybe I’ll give it ago. I could convince myself that I’m a wonderfully gifted teacher, and ring up radio shows in my spare time to moan about how difficult it is to invest my earnings wisely in property abroad.

        • Robert

          “I’ve always fancied enjoying those lazy hazy crazy days of summer”
          You can’t Colin. You’re not a qualified teacher.

          “I could convince myself that I’m a wonderfully gifted teacher”
          I never said I was wonderfully gifted but I probably am (I say modestly). After all I did get a first in my H.Dip.Ed . . . one of 7 out of 145 in my year(Did I mention that?)


          What else can i get you to begrudge???

          Do us a favour . . .and STAY IN EXILE!

          • huffnpuffpolly


            Is the above not just a bit nasty and you on 2 weeks holidays?

          • Colin_in_exile

            Wow Robert, No, you didn’t mention that you were in the top 7, you are very special. Would you like to post your transcript on the site so we can marvel at each one of your amazing achievements? Those fortunate pupils who you teach should give thanks to the Lord Almighty everytime you walk in and grace them with your presence. I hope the Principal fully appreciates your great work. I’m sure you’re the talk of all those fathers and mothers on the board of management.

            Maybe I’ll do a H.Dip.Ed. Any chance you’d guide a lesser mortal through the course? I might then find employment at your school when a vacancy arises, to further my teaching expertise. We could discuss dealing with the class clown over a coffee at 11 am. At lunchtime, we could delve into the psyche of a bully?

            It’s a long way to Tipperary,
            It’s a long way to go.
            It’s a long way to Tipperary
            To the sweetest girl I know.
            Goodbye Piccadilly,
            Farewell Leicester Square,
            It’s a long long way to Tipperary,
            But my heart lies there.

            Ah shucks Robbie, you’ve brought a tear to my eye.

          • Robert

            Colin . . . . I blush . . . momentarily.

            How sweet you are!! That’s more like it.

            You go and apply for your H.Dip.Ed. and then you would be more than welcome to “swap places” and take my classes in your teaching practice. Until then.

            I bet even huffnpuffpolly has a tear coming from her eye at such a happy ending.


      • wills

        my posting was not directed towards your good self,.
        if it is read contextually one will see it is an open comment
        directed at an idea concerned with finger pointing, and not
        actual personage, so please colin in exile careful on the read.

    • wills

      THe guilty = Crooked bankers + property speculators + gov + ?

  38. wills

    okay, i hear you on that huff, but come on, you are surely
    not tarring all teachers cos of a few on the blag..!!!
    Also, dentists are on the blag, doctors are on the blag, bankers
    are on the blag, and politicians and bus conductors and nuclear
    scientists, and monks and nuns who are pracitising vows of silence,.
    ….. but there are good doctors and politicians, well maybe 1 or 2,
    and so on.
    Look the thing is,. in relation to this POnzi Ireland inc meltdown strike
    back i see so far only the teachers doing it for real as oppossed
    to it been all huffnpuff…!!!!!!

    • Colin_in_exile


      Just because others are doing something wrong doesn’t mean you can too. If your neighbour was enjoying the finest wines and cigars 7 nights a week, do you think you should too?

      For the record, I’d like to see all of the above you’ve mentioned share more of the pain, especially the dentists, doctors and bankers.

      My definition of the problem :We are spending more than we are taking in on taxes.

      My definition of the solution : We need to spend less.

      I’d be interested to hear your concise definition of the problem and the solution.

      • wills

        no problem, b4 i do though colin, jst to say,
        my posting above was not directed at huff,
        it was an assertion open ended on an idea as oppossed to an individual,.
        i consider it brain dead to go at a blogger personally i just stick
        with the ol soapbox approach.

        ok,’a concise def on the problem’ is as follows….

        The weak, vulnerable, disempowered and feeble in our community
        are pollacked into an economic slavery by a more powerful group.
        A bit like looking at society as a school and the 6th years have taken over power from the authorities and are ‘lord of the flies’ type like
        fashion unleashing heel on earth for the lower down kids.

        My solution is as follows,….

        Take down the ruling mob and return the reigns of power to democratic

    • huffnpuffpolly

      No i’m not tarring all teachers. My sister is a teacher as are three of my nieces and another niece currently doing HDip after 4 years as an engineer. it’s a great profession for women from a care of children perspective. Let’s face it, women still in most cases take the planning of the care of the children as their task. Shure, the new man helps. The hours are child friendly and you can often work close to home.

      Then when the kids get older you can play golf in the afternoon, 9 holes even in winter.

      • Would you not let umself do a bit of fishing at all?

      • wills

        okedok, fair enough then,…
        Teachers are on the frontline on all of this,
        I noticed on the media over last two days the teachers
        are not rolling over and buying into this “we are all in it together bile”
        and resistance may be coming from quaters unexpected..!!!

    • I saw that Robert and I wondered what black propaganda expert dropped in into the public domain just when the NAMA thing is growing legs.
      There’s some fierce trickery going on at the moment in the “meeja”.

      As I have oft quoted, “Cast a cold eye on print, on politics; Blogger pass by”
      (Sounds vaguely familiar for some reason)

      • Robert


        And what did they announce to bury this information?

        5 points on your driving licence if you don’t have your car NCT-ed. FIVE points.

        All a money making scam by the Dept of Transport.

        It was put to the minister of road safety (Noel Ahern – Wonder how he got that job?) this afternoon on the Last Word (Today FM) to justify this craziness.

        His response to Anton Savage (presenter): “Dats de law. Accept it!”

  39. huffnpuffpolly

    Wills last post was the final straw
    Lads, I’m off. Not wasting any more time.
    And I actually feel sorry for the politicians after this little sojourn here. He believes Delan Ganley is much maligned and he’s going to support keeping the local hospital open. God knows I’m no supporter of Mary Harney’s co-location but I think they have it right on the Centres of Excellence. There is a problem with closing hospitals before the new centres are ready to cope but??
    Bye Lads

  40. Huffnpuff – Hi , I am the nice guy in the room serving my ‘indentured services’ to the state and growing my hair long again to feel the experience.I may be one of those guys you consider that posts the silly comments nevertheless , tell me your star sign and I will tell the world who you are.

  41. paddythepig

    What should you think when a buffoon makes a prediction?

    Biffo has told us living standards in Ireland will decrease by 10%. The Central Bank chipped in a few days later and told us living standards would decrease by 12%. Fancy that.

    I wonder what the ESRI think? And what about the FAS economist?
    How about auld Dan, now that the taxpayer is propping up his salary?

    There are two sane interpretations of such clairvoyance. One is that that things will go in the exact opposite direction, and there won’t be a drop in living standards at all. The other is that things will be much worse than they are saying, a la the ‘soft landing’.

    I’m in the latter camp ; one thing I know is that the country won’t turn the corner until things come full circle ; and our financial astrologers are doing something useful for society, like picking up litter and sweeping the streets.


  42. For some reason this didn’t get posted last time, so I’ll try again..

    I have read with interest the intelligent debate here since i discovered David’s blog this week.

    I must say that the level of analysis here FAR exceeds anything in the main stream media, and yet they wonder why alternative news sources are on the rise and circulation is falling.

    I would have to agree that there seems to be massive collusion between political elites, banking elites and media in the country and its high time that the Irish people awoke to the ‘matrix’ been pulled over their eyes each day. Watching Miriam O Callaghan on Prime Time repeatedly deflect the debate away from the Banks was a disgrace.

    The question remains, how do we affect CHANGE and influence policy before we are lumbered with NAMA?

    It doesn’t look like a vote of no confidence will happen any time soon, nor does it look likely that any opposition would behave any differently. Will protests work? Seems like they have limited ability to change policy..

    Perhaps a grassroots campaign of barraging our politicians with phonecalls / letters / emails will buy us some time? It managed to delay the 1st Bailout bill in the states.

    Above all I’m shocked at the level of apathy (not here) related to this. Have we become so docile, so disinterested that we are prepared to sit back and take this?

    Here are some videos of disgruntled congressmen in the states standing up to the financial elite – I’ve yet to see or hear of this type of interaction in the Dail.


    Perhaps there are a minority of people in Ireland that are aware that NAMA is a turkey, most of them appear to be posting here. Is there any way of organising ourselves to buy some time before NAMA is forced through the Dail?

    I have setup a group on Facebook to at least organise like minded people and proceed from there.

    If you would like to join it you can find it here:

    Some criticism has been that ‘Facebook won’t help’ or ‘What good will that do’, I am not naive enough to think one of many groups on Facebook will solve the problem alone, even if large numbers signed up and we drew media attention to it. It is however a useful tool in organisation and distributing information in a central location with a focus on driving awareness (outside of this forum) to the issues and potentially kickstarting a grassroots campaign.

    Thoughts welcome…


  43. I dont know much about economics or toxic assets (I kind of understand the property stuff) but I am wondering if teachers or any othe civil servants, or the remaining gainfully employed citizens in the private sector can really finance the great rescue plan, as the two Brians make it up as they go along.?
    This talk of billions-80 billion-90 billion-we are all rolling billions off our tongues now.!how long is this maybe 100 billion+ piece of string? Nobody has a clue.
    Is it possible that following a revolution on the streets the European Bank-or worse-the IMF will be allowed in.? will they do what the two Brians have not the balls to do.? Will they sack half the idlers in Health,Will they reduce the huge index linked pensions of current civil service retirees by 40%.
    Will they enforce new conditions for those currently serving.?
    Will-for examplle- Gardai and ESB workers still have their private health insurance subsidised and immediate access to the -1500Euros a day- Mater Private and the other High Tech hospitals guaranteed the moment they sneeze or develop any illness.?
    Will the poor continue to languish and die from cancers etc. as they wait years for an appointment with some overpaid,part time hospital consultant whose main job is elsewhere and who absents himself from his lucrative private practice now and then to do the odd operation for ‘Charity’?.
    Mary Hearney is now dispatched numerous such unfortunate public patients to his care (after a long wait) under the National Treatment Purchase Scheme.?
    So we pay for massive layers of unsackable bureaucrats in the public health sector and we pay dearly again to have patients treated in private hospitals because of the “Black Madonna” Hearney’s management skills, and of course the dead hand of public service unions.
    Will the bank chiefs be jailed.Will the former financial regulator be deprived of his obscene pension-paid for by the cuts in welfare,education, lone parents allowances, and the unemployed.?

  44. G

    I thought the expression ‘regime change’ was normally reserved for distatorships, I was under the impression that we lived in a democracy, but then again maybe not…………………..

    BTW what is Cowen doing investing in properties in England during his time as Minister for Finance, aren’t there any laws against this? Surely it represents a potential conflict of interest?

    It is just beyond belief what is happening in this State, it begs the question, what else is going on?

    • Aha.
      “it begs the question, what else is going on?”
      Patience me boy, Patience.
      Twill all come out in the wash.

      • G

        @ Furrlugs

        How much money does this man need? TD money, Minister money, Taoiseach money, God knows how many perks, doesn’t pay for a God dam think, has a solicitor’s practice and connections all over the place, his house is probably paid off, and God knows what else he has his snout stuck in.

        I don’t have a house, making below the minimum wage and have meagre savings because everything is so God dam expensive here and it is hard to get ahead when you are completely on your own and your second hand car keeps breaking down, I am really beginning to hate this f**king country, my patience for this s**t is running thin. One life and this is how it is spent, watching these f**kers enrich themselves while ‘doing the State some service’, the job is little a f**king part time thing, no wonder they never diversified the economy, made it the greenest in the world, embraced new technolgies they were too busy looking for their God dam money from foreign students!

        So the knives are out for him, it will be drip, drip all the way to June, annihilation in the local elections and then bye bye Brian, but who gives a sh*t, he’ll sail into the sunset, some other FF hack will replace him along with the customary standing ovation from ruthless careerist backbenchers, the opposition will posture and rave, they all pick up their cheques for their monthly performance (I’m not even mentioning the Seanad) and Rome burns while Nero plays the God dam fiddle.

        Would some charismatic leader please emerge and save us from these f**king jackals!

      • G

        @ Furrylugs

        “Twill all come out in the wash.”

        That wash may the giant tsunami that hits this country due to global warming and our collective failure to get our s**t together, Christ I despair at what is taking place, are there any honourable people left or is all self-interest? We haven’t evolved one bit, could just one of them put the money down for a second and run this country properly, just one!!!!!!

  45. jim

    I have been getting reports lately from Ireland about something that get’s little mention these day’s in the media or elsewhere.It concerns all the tradespeople ,contractors,suppliers etc who at one stage or other worked for these Developers and their Bankers.Most of these Carpenters,Plumbers,Electricians etc.seem to be owed various amounts of money for work and materials they supplied to various Developments and have resorted to Legal advice to try and recover same.Meanwhile back at the ranch,they are having Vans,Machines,tools etc reposessed in lieu of payment’s of all sorts.These guy’s n girls are finding that work has virtually dried up as one would expect in a downturn of this nature,so apart from having to sign onn the live Register,they are now been stripped of their means of production, defaulting on materials supplies,machine repossessions etc which is having a detremental impact on their Credit Rating and their future ability to secure Finance for any future ventures ,even away from the construction industry.Their Legal advisors are saying that they can secure judgements against these Developers but as the Banks have first dibs on any assets,they are unlikely to achieve any Financial gain from pursuing these Developers.They are being constantly being Harassed by Banks etc regarding Buisness loans ,leasing,etc,even outside Banking hours.The amount of stress and depression is clear and is the amount of suffering these people are having to endure and all because they did the jobs they were trained to do and supplied materials in good faith to disreputable people and their Bankers.Some common reports are of vans being repossed and sold at Auction in what is clearly a depressed market,with the shortfall in revenue still outstanding to the original distressed worker.These are real people enduring real hardship,who have spent their time at the coalface,generating huge profits for the same Bankers and Government and Fuc.ing Developers who have virtually taken over all comment and programming in the Media.No one is interested in hearing their Names.No mention of help. No forgiveness of any sort.No writedowns. WELL FU.K the whole lot of them Bankers et al I WILL HIGHLIGHT THEIR PLIGHT EVEN IF ITS ONLY ON THIS FORUM.The Bull mc Cabe was right “gone Flanaghan but not forgotten”.Ireland would need to implement some sort of rehabilitating programme to undo the harm caused to these workers,because my fear is that having been backed into a corner with no future in sight ,these are not the sort of people you want hitting the streets in protest( if my memory of Irish Building workers is anything to go by).The feeling I get from the reports Im hearing is that most of these workers are at breaking point,so better to intervene now and offer some hope of a future or run the risk of some very ugly scenes.It might be easy to call these people unemployed or underemployed ,but not if they are carrying I.O.U’s belonging to Developers and their sponsoring Bankers and are being undermined Financially and Personally.I cannot be any clearer than that folks,so take heed of my warning’s.

    • Absolutely shameful; despite being so far away I know a few of those people myself as some old friends are tilers, pavement ‘slabbers’, brickies, etc. But contrary to what you opined Sir jim, I say bring on the ‘ugly scenes’ – it’s the only way things will change now. I’d love to see a b(w)anker getting a good lash by an honest tradesman somewhere down the IFSC (or whatever you call that Babylon by the docks – my father used to work down there when it WAS actually the docks and drank in a pub called Vallance McGrath’s – now demolished I believe – even the local gang called the McKenzies had more honour and integrity than the shower of suited scum that frequent the area now). If push comes to shove and things get really heated I will consider abandoning the Leewards temporarily and coming back for a while to put my tuppence (and my boot) in wherever needed, but I’m not optimistic. Just hope my dear elderly folks get through everything in one piece.

    • Deco

      Yeah…well them builders have votes. They were very hard on Parlon – who serves the wealthy and robs everyone else unfortunate to have to deal with him. I just hope them builders saved every penny they got during the good years. I know a lot of them did not. Parlon -on a higher salary than Obama or Merkel – was complaining to the media about his treatment.

      The votes in the next election will point the way towards no more bailouts for bankers or speculators or developers. But the Greens will make sure that the government is in place to ensure that the bankers get saved. What a difference a ministerial prius and salary can make.

      Dan Boyle of the Green Party informed the nation that the banks were more important (for getting taxpayer funded bailouts) than the industrial base. Given a choice between Anglo and Waterford Glass, or Anglo and Dell, Anglo would get state support.

      That was at the height of the crisis last October. I thought it was the must stupid economics lecture ever from the Greens – and the Greens have produced some incredibly stupid economic proposals down the years. There are backbenchers in FF who have reservations and they are being whipped into line – though Joe Behan broke ranks. The Greens spent all of 2008 doing everything they could to keep Electricity and gas prices high – because of the carbon footprint. Absolutely ludicruous in a recession. They did not bat an eyelid when Dempsey mothballed the buses. I think we have all sussed out the Greens – they are keeping it up where the PDs finished off. Making FF even worse in government than if they were on their own. Well there you have it. Save the orangutangs and the bankers – both though the orangutangs have probably a greater functioning intelligence – and bankrupt the nation for the next generation.

      There is something morally wrong about bankers still being in their jobs, being overpaid, and having parties, when they created this mess, while plasters, plumbers etc..who did the real work are having to line up at the nearest social welfare office for the dole. The bankers are not being called to account.

      We have been given dire warnings about what would happen if the banks sollapsed/disappeared/were dissolved. The behaviour of the bankers seems to indicate that we might be all better off it that happened !!! The seem to be the problem at the moment.

      There are people in Ireland who are resolving to never, ever, ever get into debt again. To live without, rather than to live in debt.

      It is better to be humble and free of debt, than proud and the servant of another’s whims. But we have been ‘educated’ since the mid 80s by a torrent of propaganda from the D4 banks and the media, to believe the absolute opposite. And now they want us to bail them out. No Thanks !! These scoundrels have been in power for too long.

      • “Save the orangutangs and the bankers – both though the orangutangs have probably a greater functioning intelligence”

        Wish I thought of that one. Classic comment.

      • VincentH

        Yes Deco, for the last number of months we have seen Parlon rabbit on about keeping the development plans in place. And one or two of them might have a valid use. But a rail line from Derry to Cork is not one of them. Galway to Limerick, fair enough, as with the link to Navan. But the rest of the vanity projects should go the way of the bertie-bowl. For the simple reason the cash will not do anything like the what it could do.
        As to the Bank and bankers, I have yet to listen to a good reason exactly why we are on this path. Everything points to emptying the Atlantic with a spoon. But really on balance you cannot blame them for everything. It is not so long ago since there was a Turbulent Priest invitation issued. Something that very very few years ago would have been acted upon.
        Elsewhere comment has been made on the education system, where attacks on the teaching trades has displayed a certain amount of acid. Well I for one do not blame them one whit when as a collective they are prepared to halt the economy. Given the schizophrenic crap they are expected to impart as empirical fact, I find it a wonder and an true Art on the teachers part that the Universities use only the first year to clear this dross from the ears.
        As to the issue with FF, they are in permanent search for the All Knowing Prince, or at least someone with a decent grasp of Maths, Tomatoes/tomatoes.

    • Garry

      A very very good point Jim.

  46. Moon Wobble Predictions :

    I realise many have been waiting anxiously for this notice to appear since we last revealed the previous revelations on this blogg in Jan ’09 and we all know what happened then .Now the moment has arrived for more exciting insights and all this month so hold onto your seats and read this slowley and carefully.

    The duration of this wobble is from Sunday 19th Apr to Tues 28th Apr but the actual date of occurance of the actual wobble is 24th Apr.Because this specific wobble occurs in Taurus and involves a T-square with the nodal axis in Leo-Aquarius , it is likely to be a time of highly charged emotions. Issues concerning ownership and possessiveness are likely to arise .There may be a tendency to become loyally attached to your ideas of ”how things ouht to be”, which causes you to be confronted with resistance from others who have a different idea and how things ought to be.Stubborness and pride are definately not recommended stances during these days. Clarity will return after the effects of this moon wobble pass.Focusing on the big picture is best stance.The idea is to keep your eye on what other people want and what is going to work in a way that serves them well as you .This will give you the objectivity you need to be able to interact without rocking the boat or taking action that you will regret further down the road.

    The above is a general explanation .So how can this apply to us in Ireland now .We can only speculate from within the position we find ourselves in now and from what we know and try to jigsaw it into a picture.

    What I can say definately is that there is an enormous air of extraordinary stubborness and it crosses material things ( like land , chatels , investments etc ) , spiritual leadership ( this is liken to the revelation of a leader in our midst or it might be extraordinary very strong national outcry where voices are roared like lions everywhere ) and this manifests itself in Public Acts of Outcry , and a Stubborn Diplomacy ( this seems to indicate that there is a ‘no budge ‘ to our demands, and secrecy of national importance predominates in the nation in other words we are left in the dark.
    So the safe advice is learn to keep your head down , breath deeper , smile and ADAPT .Patience is a virtue here and after the passing of this dangerous wobble clariy will return again

    The following are personalities to watch out for in this crossing :
    Peter Bacon
    Tony Blair
    President Obama
    Bill Clinton
    Mary Robinson
    Queen of England

    The above is astrology and probabilities and not clairvoyancy .

  47. If ten good men assembled at the gates of Leinster House would the sheep rally in their thousands until regime change was effected?
    Methinks their mirror image (Fine Gael) dont really want the job anyhow..
    Now what about this guy Ganley?
    No prisoners or no shit at least from this man!

    • tirnanog33,

      “If ten good men assembled”
      The Scots had a bit of a problem in 1320 so they came up with this;


      It still holds sway to this day in that they are Scottish first and foremost.
      The salient statement was,

      “as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

      A clear statement of identity.
      We, as Irish people, could do with a similar statement of who and what we stand for.

  48. I thought I’d stick this up here for reference. Not that I’m trying to subvert the webmaster, be a Holy Joe or dictate trends. Just a discussion document on what we’re all about here.


  49. very good Furrylugs,
    “Corruption is inherent in all compounded things.Look to your salvation with diligence”
    “Not in the sky, not in the midst of the sea, nor if we enter into the clefts of the mountains, is there known a spot in the whole world where a man might be freed from an evil deed.”

    “Not in the sky, not in the midst of the sea, nor if we enter into the clefts of the mountains, is there known a spot in the whole world where death could not overcome a mortal.”
    The Buddha.

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