March 21, 2011

Defending the Indefensible

Posted in Banks · 156 comments ·

A castle, like Ireland’s biggest Norman keep at Trim has many layers of defence. So too have the banks. But eventually those huddling inside the castle come under threat.

A few years back, while researching The Pope’s Children, I headed out To Kells in Co Meath. Kells had seen its population grow by 25 per cent between 1996 and 2002.This was an extraordinary expansion in population. Who were all these people?

Well, very early in the morning, I saw them at the hot food counter in Spar. The ‘Kells Angels’ were those thousands of early morning commuters from Kells and other towns in the area who left home in the dark and came home in the dark, commuting down the old congested N3 to Dublin every day. This surely was a group in Ireland worth writing about. How did they live, where did they come from and what did they do on a Saturday night?

Fast-forward six years and I am in Kells again. Two weeks ago, I was invited back by the Kells Chamber of Commerce to speak at its annual bash. The town, although suffering, has a resilient commercial core, and these traders and entrepreneurs are determined to survive the recession and thrive.

The Kells Angels are still here, and so are their counterparts in Navan, Trim and other towns in Meath. The talk that evening was about the lack of credit, the difficult trading position and the implosion of the local property market. But there was a strong sense of a refusal to give up.

Driving home, I took a detour via Trim to look at the amazing structure that is Trim Castle. It’s easy to see why the producers of Braveheart used Trim Castle in the film – its structure is enormous, elevated on the banks of the Boyne.

The castle’s defences, like the earlier Irish ring forts, are based on the idea of an outer wall and then concentric inner walls, all of which could be defended against the attacker. If the outer wall is breached, then the defenders would retreat to the next wall and so on, and each inner defence was less penetrable than the last, until you got to the citadel, the last line, which would be defended at all costs.

I couldn’t help thinking, with talk of default in the air, that Trim Castle’s defences are lined up to protect the occupiers in a way that is quite similar to the way a bank’s funding is set up to protect the depositors from losses.

These days, when we are supposed to be experts on bondholders, shareholders, subordinated debt holders and so on, it’s easy to get confused. It is difficult to get a handle on who is owed what by whom and who is protected to what extent.

It is also hard to understand why some forms of bank creditors have to be defended and others don’t. So why for example have all those who had shares in Bank of Ireland been almost wiped out, but those who lent to the same bank via the bond market are protected? After all, the shareholders and the bondholders were both lending to the bank weren’t they? So why is one sacrosanct and the other disposable?

Let’s think about the protection afforded to the various creditors of a bank in terms of the various levels of protection provided by a medieval castle, which is being attacked.

In the old days, the least protected were the surrounding peasants who ran to the castle at the first sign of trouble; the most protected were the nobleman and his family. In the modern case of defending the banks, the attackers are the markets and the defenders are the banks’ managements and, of course, the government.

In corporate finance, when a company is going bust, you have lines of capital, some of which are more exposed and others which are offered more protection. The more speculative the investment in the upswing, the more exposed this form of capital will be in the downturn.

The first line of defence for the castle is the moat. First line of defence for a bank is the most ‘liquid’ form of capital. It consists of shares. If you have shares in a bank, they are the first to go in a banking collapse.

So too are what are called ‘retained earnings’. These are the bank’s profits which have not yet been distributed to the shareholders in dividends. There are other forms of what is called Tier 1 capital like IOUs issued by the bank which are called ‘‘unsecured perpetual securities’’ and preference shares. These, like the moat, are breached first.

Next up is the curtain wall of the castle – the big solid wall that runs around its perimeter. For the banks, this line of defence is made of subordinated debt. This is called ‘‘buffer capital’’ and is the next to go in a bankruptcy. It is followed by what is called senior unsecured debt. These are bonds that are issued by the bank, but are not backed by any collateral. These are the mythical bondholders.

Of course, no castle is any good without an army to help defend it. In the case of Trim Castle, when it was built, the defenders were the Norman de Lacys. In the case of Irish banks, the army is the government guarantee. This army stands on the curtain wall of the castle defending it from the attackers; the government guarantee stands behind much of the unsecured debt, trying to defend it from the markets.

If the curtain wall of a castle is breached and those defenders slain, the last line in Trim is the castle keep itself. Trim Castle is an imposing structure that would be very hard to break into, with its elevated entrance an many points for the defenders to inflict casualties on the attackers below.

For a bank, the actual castle wall is the ‘secured debt’. This is debt that is fully underwritten by the assets of the bank. We are talking about stuff like secured creditors owning asset-backed securities which are in turn backed by the mortgages written by the bank.

Finally, inside the castle itself are the defenders and their families. These are the depositors in the banks. Without the depositors, there would be no bank. Without the occupiers, there would have been no Trim Castle. These are not so much a line of defence as a raison d’être for the bank. But if the attack is successful, the occupiers of the castle will fall too.

If the bank fails to defend itself from the markets, then the depositors too will fall. There are two things that strike you when you look at Trim Castle – one is that it must have been a very impressive structure when it was at the height of its power. The second is that it is now a ruin, its time has passed and it was eventually allowed to fall to ruin. It was no longer worth defending. Trim Castle was never defeated in a military attack; it just outlived its usefulness.

The banks are under attack but, for the depositors, stuck in the castle, things are not as bad as they would be for the defenders of Trim Castle. Depositors are not stuck where they are – they can leave at any time. You can move your deposits in the morning, if you want.

The more resources we throw at defending the castle curtain wall, the less we will have to cover the deposits. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Depositors in Irish banks have already been fleeing. With so much committed to defending the outer walls and so little sign of successfully repelling the attackers, is it any wonder the defenders deep on the inside are beginning to panic?

  1. adamabyss


  2. paddyjones

    There are easier ways of making a point than Davids analogy of a castle and banks. I cant help but feel that David cant get his head around the problem in the banks, he cant accept the burden.
    What should have happened is that restructuring and asset sales would have reduced the burden. Irelands banks became 4 times bigger than the economy. This was never sustainable.
    when I walk into my local AIB there are usually more staff than customers at any point in time. It is not politically acceptable to say that many of these bank employees should be made redundant. All mortgage assets should be sold on in a controlled manner to foreign financial institutions. We need to downsize the banks to a more sustainable size.
    But David is a populist and he would never tell us the truth. Instead he blames the bondholders who are by and large pension funds throughout Europe. How would you feel about seeing your pension decrease because of people like DMcW or Enda Kenny advocating “burning bondholders”?
    I think that when you borrow money you are morally obliged to repay it and no comments about reckless German banks lending money to Irish banks.
    I worked for a builder some years ago who used to moan about people not paying him but at the same time he would not pay his creditors either. A total two faced son of a bitch.
    I think the Irish are getting a bad name for themselves for welching on their debts. Confidence and trustwortheness are essential traits in business.

    • @paddyjones

      “you” are morally obliged to repay it.

      What twisted logic makes you think “you” means “Irish citizens”

      When the 100 or so Irish billionaire debt junkies brought Anglo to its knees, what twisted logic made their debts “you” debts?

      People gambled pension funds by lending to dodgy Anglo lured by its crazy growth. Those people lost and should pay for their loss.

      As far as I know, hospital porters on the minimum wage, should not have their wages reduced to pay for those gambling losses, because they were not responsible for them!#!?

      You are advocating moral hazard and telling Irish citizens that they are morally obliged to pay for losses they are not responsible for?

      You say, “Confidence and trustwortheness are essential traits in business.” Believe me, being a thick Paddy inspires neither confidence nor trustworthiness.

      • paddyjones

        Your childish personal attack makes me laugh.
        Thick paddy???
        Paddy Jones BA G Dip ACCA

        • Hi Paddy,
          With respect my IQ is probably not where it should be and I may need certain things explained to me that others seem to get without effort.

          I mortgaged within the three times salary guideline in 2000. I never had an Anglo Irish Bank account (In fact I don’t know anybody who had?) I never even had an Allied Irish Bank account. I mostly bank with Ulster Bank but recieved a mortgage from Bank of Scotland.
          I have always paid my taxes and thankfully still have a job? I take full responsibility for my debts and duly work them off.

          Please explain my moral attachment to the reckless practices of certain businesses. Bearing in mind that I never recieved a cent from their record breaking profits. Please advise as to how I am now by association responsible for paying their record breaking debts.

          Might I add that my two young children of 13 and 9 have never entered into any arrangement with said businesses and as we stand they too will share the burden?

          If the case for our cross generational debt- responsibility is made then I am prepared to listen.

          Again with respect, I await an explanation.

          • wills

            That sums it all up in a nutshell right there Paul.

          • paddyjones

            Two rights dont make a wrong.
            You will see that there is no appitite in Europe for the Irish government “burning bondholders” . The damage has already been done most of the bondholders have already been paid. There is about 20 billion left, this will be paid no matter what Kenny says. This money will be borrowed from the ECB to repay them.
            At the moment Ireland owes the ECB 180 billion , thats the problem not the bondholders.

          • Paddy,
            You say “Two rights dont make a wrong” – I’m afraid as a moral argument that doesn’t cut the mustard with me.
            The Irish people are getting bad press here because until Sept. 2008 we never had a reputation for welching on debt, nor should we ever have such a reputation!
            I’m sorry that anybody is getting burned but given a pragmatic choice I would suggest that bondholders can bear it and move on in a way that our economy and children cannot?
            Wouldn’t you think?

        • paddyjones –

          It is interesting that you brandish your professional flags under the banner of ‘morals’.My practice since 1977 was a recognised center of learning for students and members of your professional body and many of your members and qualified auditors have passed through my stewardship in those years .
          My point is that no professional body of accountants have morals written into their professional codes and ethics of practice and have never encouraged such thing.Infact they promulgated the rules to make money only at the cost of the abuse of social morals.

        • In your defence, your qualifications havn’t been a good defence against stupidity on this occasion:) Re there is about €20bn left to be paid, readers should look at the following:

          Notice the €30 bn + owed to non residents and in particular to Firesale Bruton’s IFSC


          “At the moment Ireland owes the ECB 180 billion , thats the problem not the bondholders.”

          I see, you are going to pay them out of your own pocket!

          Re the €180 bn I argue this point closely here:

          This money could be raised as part of a quid pro quo not to burn bondholders in return for an overall debt for equity swap along the lines of that proposed by Karl Whelan.

          In the absence of such a deal, we should simply leave the EZ, the alternative being we capitulate on our sovereignty, poodle along as a vassal debt repayment agency for the ECB, and enjoy the experience of financial fascism, a state run by the banks, for the banks and of the banks.

    • Malcolm McClure

      paddyjones: Well said. I’m beginning to think David has lost the plot.

      • malcolm – in one word ‘wobble’.

      • Malcolm – come back into the room and get off the pedestral …your birthday party is over now ….back to the grinding stone and enjoy.We all want to hear your wisdom .

        • Malcolm McClure

          John ALLEN and Wills: I am emerging from a frustrating three months dealing with various public servants and a bank in Ireland. Everyone, without exception, was unfailingly courteous and helpful within the confines of the rules and procedures they are bound by. I had to learn to comply with a whole series of limitations that were not apparent at the outset. These cost me lot in time, patience, resources and perhaps incidentally in health.

          What have I learnt from this experience? Firstly that Ireland is indeed fortunate to be served by people in responsible positions who retain a sense of humanity. Secondly, that our current civilisation requires that people abide very strictly to laws, rules and regulations. Obviously, this was all the more important to those in the above categories whose very jobs are on the line. Nevertheless they remained patient and courteous, but firm about my suggestions that there could be other solutions to various problems that arose. They were not defending the indefensible but upholding our recognized standards of civilisation.

          Therefore I think that cavalier suggestions such as ‘burn the bondholders’ and ‘renege on EU agreements’ that undermine Trust at a fundamental level are unacceptable. I believe that the integrity of the responsible people referred to above will be undermined by any such suggestion.

          Like the Irish rugby and cricket teams, let’s play by the rules, as best we can.

          • Malcolm – I am glad you are back and dont forget I remember very well the finese in your communication skills helped by your benevolent mercury position so I will be careful not to undermine myself against your wisdom.

            ‘As best we can ‘ is what you said . My understanding from simple national arithmatics that our sums do not add up .And there is no blood in stone but that does not mean there are no resources under the Atlantic.

            Maybe you are refering that we should listen to the oratory skills of Oscar Wilde and send him over to EU in disguise!Does he have relevant quotations that we should listen to ?

          • coldblow

            Hi Malcolm, welcome back.

            I’m glad you found a satisfactory response in your recent dealings, on a personal if not on a business level, and of course this reflects well on yourself too.

            And I also agree that civilized people need to play according to the rules. But in this case isn’t burning the bondholders also playing by the rules, where they are not guaranteed?

            As for the rules there are of course wider issues as to who sets them, who can alter them to suit their own narrower circumstances, and the issue of bureaucracy for its own sake. But we won’t go there now.

            Here’s an interesting thread from Karl Whelan on (and he wouldn’t be regarded as a left-wing crusader) where he argues that Ireland has made very big sacrifices already in terms of cuts:


            From this thread the following poster is reliable, though I would often disagree with his overall point of view:

            Hoganmayhew March 22, 1.46pm:

            It starts:
            “Like burning bank bondholders (even the guaranteed ones), it is not a question of morality, it is a question of practicality.”

            (As if happens he backs this up with a strong argument, as does Michael Hennigan.)

            Now Malcolm, you once called for Chilean-style austerity if I remember rightly, and that’s fair enough (though I don’t agree). But you are calling here for trust and civilized behaviour to be defended in the case of govt and bank debt, yet it appears to be another matter when it concerns welfare, PS pay and jobs etc. In other words the one is sacrosanct and the other expendable, on practical grounds. Or to put it another way, when the existence of the state is at stake then the normal rules can (must) be broken. But why is it only one way and not the other?

            Sorry, don’t mean to go on, but what were the rules of civilization under the independent Irish state? Property rights were upheld over all others. If you were a possessor (of land, employment or capital) you were safe, the rest emigrated. Seemed to work well enough on the whole didn’t it?

          • wills


            Thats fair enough and my take on what you said I do agree, but, the shitzes who hatched a Ponzi scam through the shadow banking sector are who david is talking about, he aint talking bout the patsies out the front.

    • wills


      The banks borrowed the money so the banks are obliged to repay it.

      Spot on dude.

    • Tim

      paddyjones, what you propose is not only immoral but impossible. How can you think it is right that innocent Irish citizens are paying-off the gambling debts of profit-greedy investors?

      David is telling the truth. Are you unable to handle the truth, or have you just swallowed so much government lies and media spin that you can no longer think straight?

      For your next trick, will you regurgitate the govt/media lies that the crisis was caused by the public servants and not the private sector gamblers in financial institutions?

      After what you have written above, it will not surprise me, if you do. Sleep well…….

      • LOMAN

        debt audit as proposed by Mr Mc, separate sovereign and give equity to the speculators as opposed to funds. this will free up the current congestion.
        It is not as clear as private sector (bad)versus public sector (good). We can all agree its not so black and white ,its a little more grey. the state appointed regulators I believe were public servants as were the previous government. ‘light touch’ monitoring between public servants and private speculators can be factored into our economic current woes, no?
        After all 80 percent of our economy IS the private sector and the hse, nra et al….? What historical and privileged days we are witnessing ……….

        Like Trim castle , we need some Cromwellian enema to shake loose unwanted wasteful systems of governance. Both elected and permanent…

    • LOMAN

      I will give you 50k right now. you do what you want with it. don’t worry your neighbours can pay it back. you enjoy it. my creditors will squeeze your neighbours not you or me . every ones a winner(well you and I are). me ’cause your neighbours are paying me (with interest) and, you ’cause you have had a good time with my 50k win win (for us). This is a bit simplistic. I do agree with you, when you say your borrow you pay back. However it shouldn’t be your neighbours or I should could shafted for throwing money at you not taking account the risk involved.

      • LOMAN

        or I should be shafted for throwing money at you for not taking account of the risk involved, not one of your blind neighbours.yeah i’m mixing metaphors its too late.

    • Dorothy Jones

      I liked the analogy of Trim Castle!
      It is effective, especially that of the depositors with the banks [family in castle] being not so much a line of defence as a raison d’etre for the bank.

    • ex_pat_northerner

      Maybe as David states we should moderate the language. The Banks have burned the bondholders. The Irish government have attempted a rescue package for these bondholders based on the banks projections of losses incurred. Since then it would seem there are more losses than is feasible for the Irish people to pay, therefore the rescue attempt is being reviewed.

    • ouldbegrudger

      While I have no wish to offend or get into a flame-war, I do feel obliged to answer your rather odd logic. Firstly, some perspective: GoldmanSacks reports that their analysts have estimated the cost to the Japanese economy of the recent earthquake and tsunami to be $200 billion. This is the upper range of various estimates that vary from $140B (€100B)and up. So from a purely monetary perspective the Japanese disaster is of the same order as our banking disaster. The Japanese, however, have some twenty-eight times our population and perhaps 50 times our GDP. The most important difference however is that our disaster was completely man-made and entirely avoidable. Imagine, if you can, that Ireland was hit by a natural disaster that caused economic damage in relative terms some 28 times that of Japan’s in per-capita terms. That is the scale of the banking fiasco and before you advocate sticking the bill to my children you should examine your conscience concerning the men who have moral culpability in the matter. After they have been picked clean of their assets and fat pensions then and only then should you cite the “moral obligations” of our children and the unborn.
      Secondly, concerning our international reputation; it’s mud and beyond redemption. You’ll need to do better that that if you’re going to rubbish DMcW.

  3. Amazing stamina is what you have David Mc Williams. Writing away on the same topic week in week out. Anyone who reads this blog and has money left in the banks deserves to loose it. The idiots guide “What to do when we default” should be your next bestseller.

  4. JohnnyGordon

    Hi David,

    Trim Castle analogy seemed a bit of a stretch.

    But cannot follow paddyjones’s comment hardly at all. As I see it WE did not borrow the money at all. It was the banks who borrowed.

    Let me suggest a different point;

    ” If I was selling shirts in the West of Ireland and five of my customers wanted to bring their business from €1,00 a year to €20,000 a year, and on credit of course, how long do you think I would wait and give such credit before making a trip to see what they could possibly be doing with all those shirts?? Same with European banks lending us unbelievable amounts of money over ten years and nary a phone call to make sure that all was OK!”

    • mcsean2163


      The Euro banks didn’t lend “us” a penny. They lent the money to the banks.

      The government in their supreme stupidity guaranteed the banks and hence the reason why the banks debts are now our debts.

      Let me suggest a point;

      Paddy had a business selling shirts but wasn’t doing well. I looked over his books and said “Spot on Paddy, no bother. I’ll guarantee all your debts. Here is the legal documentation to say that I will cover all your debts.” Now Paddy’s debts are my debts in the event he cannot pay them back.

      In our case we, the Irish people, not me (I personally never voted FF), elected a goverment who guaranteed all the banks debts. That is why we owe the money. Plain and simple.

      Unfortunately, we are verging on bankruptcy and that is why we are listening to these arguments, attempts at justifying welching on our debts and in fairness that is what has to be done.

      Alternatively, we could organse every parish in Ireland to send out begging letters to global the “diaspora”. They are the invites we should be sending, invitations to donate money to the poor Irish who can no longer buy a new car every year or a tenth home.

      Dear Mr. Gonzales,

      We have searched are records to find that your great grandfather, Ned the Nut, was born in the parish on BallygoBackwards. We are sorry to report that in these benighted days many of our parishioners are disappointed by the size of their European grants and the lacklustre performance of the construction sector.

      Indeed many are finding difficulty meeting repayments on their fourth and in some cases even third mortgages.

      Please come back for a while and give us loads of money.
      Grab U Mony

      • wills

        Dude, I do not owe any banks debts to anyone.

        I was not asked.

        I did not consent.

        I am protected by the constitution A45 on this and if I could i would sue anyone coercing this imposed command on me to pay banks debts and sue em and sue em and sue em and sue em and sue the bastard fcuks into oblivion.

  5. Yep, Trim (haircut) Castle is a useful analogy but it has some weakness, it leaves out the distinction that should be made between Irish and European interests in this debate.

    For example, reading and listening to the ‘bondholder’ debate over the past number of weeks I’ve been frustrated on a number of occasions re the following simple throwaway point that is never challenged on Pravda RTE.

    Often its a little throwaway remark,’many of the bondholders are Irish’…..

    Little is elaborated then, other than maybe a vague,.. ‘Irish pension funds’…The implication is held out that ‘burning bondholders’ equates to the terrifying burning of Irish bondholders.

    Oh the shame and guilt that descends on me then when I bemoan all my calls to burn bondholders, only to discover some of them might be Irish.

    I need to remedy this immediately.

    So, I now call on Primetime to have a debate between Irish bondholders, who stand to lose out in any ‘burn bondholder’ default; and Irish citizens, who should be made to pay in full the Irish bondholder debts.

    Surely these Irish citizens should be prepared to reduce their minimum wage, or close some schools and hospitals to avoid ‘Irish’ bondholders getting burned? Let’s see em debate!

    The question of Irish default, Nama, bondholders, property developers, the financial industry feeding on the carcase of Ireland along with those who got us into the mess, is a question of a tug of war between the financial class feeding off the bailout ‘recovery’ money and the Irish citizens paying for the bailout through austerity.

    Unfortunately, those who got us into the mess have their feeder tubes sucking into every bit of financial assistance they can beg, borrow or steal, to cushion the impact of their loss and Irish citizens are expected to pay for this.

    Its expensive, Nama is expensive, saving bondholders is expensive, those paying to save bondholders through moral hazard in Ireland are, the Irish citizens!

    The bondholders need to be protected, no banker goes to jail, no property developer goes to jail. Nama pays em all for their losses.

    To borrow DmcW Trim Castle analogy, we have a Sheriff of Nottingham situation, Irish citizens and their children are being ripped off with penal austerity to pay for the gambling debts of about a 100 Irish people.

    But what DmcW Trim castle anaology does not define, is the collusion between the Irish quisling financial class and foreign bondholders and lenders such as the ECB.

    So, the Irish financial class who created the mess are being bribed with the rewards of bailout if and only if they support and defend European bondholders and the ECB!

    In a strange irony the very fact of the above distortion and the impossible demands this imposes on the Irish economy, brings the inevitability of a default situation and without such a default, our economy cannot return to healthy growth.

    Our problem has been that those who got us into the mess were not wiped out to begin with, but were resurrected to create the bigger mess we are in now.

    • shtove

      The point about “our pension funds” is right out of Peter Sutherland’s playbook – aka Mr Goldman Sachs (Irish franchise). I thought the mantra was “property is my pension”! What a swindle.

      Those who anticipated the banking collapse have no doubt that Ireland must default on account of the blanket guarantee.

      The people can change history, but they need to take the pain for the sake of their children.

  6. donal jackson

    This is interesting but do you think that we should look at why these bankers were able(not allowed)to do this in the first place. Fractional reserve banking and the money multiplier system. Also we must not forget that bankers own the regulation bank(BIS)in Switzerland. Everyone should read Basel 111. We must insist that our government introduce rules that break the connection between residential mortgages and the trading floors of the banks. They must not be allowed to use residential mortgages as collateral for their borrowing on the markets(assets).Our government must own the system of the “whole in the wall” access and any depositor must give their permission in writing(not when they open an account) for their money to be used for security buying or investing.The interest rate will be small as a result of these rules but most depositors don’t worry about this. We must look at how they advertise the banks and not allow them to connect everyday living with them. Apparently nobody wants them accountable for the corruption that has gone on??

  7. angelheart

    Ive been wondering on and off for about 5 months… Where can I open a new bank account? Any clues appreciated?

  8. wills


    I reckon in the citadel sits the banks ability to make credit and make money.

    Whatever else regarding bank debt and the rest of it the one thing the bank can do and is an ace up is sleeve is the license to make credit and make money.

    Banks grow money on trees.

    This is what is been protected.

    The banks license to as a going concern to grow money on trees.

    For the moment the banks are ducking and diving this and that but they are in business and growing money on trees.

    The banks garbage out front of house is for the moment leftover garbage from their growing money on trees orgy.

    But, its actual ability to grow money on trees is still in place and safe behind the castle walls in the citadel awaiting the new engineered environment to get going again growing money for nothing and making more insiders more rich over and over.

  9. paddyjones says :

    ‘I think that when you borrow money you are morally obliged to repay it and no comments about reckless German banks lending money to Irish banks’.

    There are no morals in a Casino other than play by the rules : burning bondholders is a choice in the game .So lets do it.

  10. Castle Analogy : I enjoyed this concept and would have liked it in a pictogram format and should be very useful for students of economics.It is in a way connecting the past with the present and the future.I suggest that you include this in your independent colleges around the country.

  11. Martial Arts : Some forms take a defensive strategy and some an assertive attack in either way both can be very dangerous to win.
    David writes about the defensive strategy .There is the attack strategy also that can be very immoral and deceptive and fatal to anyone who dared ( borrow money ).
    It would be fantastic if David would analyse this and in some future article demonstrate the various weapons that are used by banks to secure payment through the courts etc .
    Afterall castles made a fortune first to be able to build their large fortresses.

  12. Trichets Dogma :

    ~The Irish can pay it and they will .

    We have no hope sending out a Fagen Noonan with his goofah sniggering accent and boyo vocabulary of classroom politics into the fray of the European Mainstream Financial Verbage . What a waster we have when we will wake up.

    Where are YOU Pat Cox?

  13. Evening all, Good to see robust debate on a Monday night. It seems that the government is moving decisively towards the position of making the €22billion of bondholder exposure, more exposed. I welcome this – as a capitalist:)

    Lets hope they continue this policy – but I do have some sympathy for the Paddythepig view that this is tip of the iceberg stuff. But it usually is in most countries!


  14. Save the People

    @Paddy Jones and the rest of the critics of David McWilliams. David has not lost the plot. You have stated that the 180 billion owed to the ECB is the problem and not the bondholders. This is partially correct. As you are no doubt aware, the ECB have insisted on the Irish taxpayer paying the debts of the bondholders who wrecklessly gambled and lost. A large percentage of these debts were not covered by the government guarantee.

    The Irish taxpayer has no legal or moral obligation to pay debts which are not Sovereign debts. Any amounts already paid, which were not Sovereign, and which were paid through the immoral coersion of the ECB should not be paid back. To add insult to injury the ECB is also charging an extortionate rate of interest to ensure that we default. The reason for this is to completely cripple our economy to make us totally financially dependent upon the EU for finance. At this point we will be forced to do anything the EU requests of us, i.e change our corporate tax rate. You describe the German banks who over loaned money to Irish banks as wreckless. This would appear to me to be more sinister than wreckless.

    And how can Ireland finance itself if we refuse to repay the ECB on the non Sovereign debt I hear you ask? The answer is, the same way the U.S, Russia, Angola, Venezuela, Congo, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria etc, etc, etc. We seek finance from China. China offer terms of repayment over a 12 year period and rates of interest range from 0.2% to 3.6%.

    The reality is that our economy does not need to be in the crisis we are facing. Drastic times call for drastic measures. This would involve cancelling the propostrous licences issued to the oil companies which effectively allow them to steal our huge gas resources.

    A memo released on Wikileaks shows how Shell believe there are at least 20 more gas fields of the size of the Corrib fiel off our coast. This equates to 11 trillion Euros worth of gas alone. We should request financial assistance from China and also ask them for assistance to develop our gas fields for a share of the resources.

    The mere hint of the possibility of assistance from China will result in a far more lenient approach to the restructuring of our debts by the ECB and our EU “friends”. David touched upon the possibility of seeking finance from China when on Prime Time. I sincerely hope he expands on this option in an article for the sake of the Irish people.

    • Yes Save the People! I agree!
      The only way to play the game is talk business!
      Dunnes Stores never got to the top worrying about the morality of closing local shops or indeed Sunday trading!
      In the modern world business morals are not to be confused with Sunday School morals.
      Somebody for self-serving reasons cleverly mixed the two in this default debate.
      Lets be serious and play serious ball and, as I’ve seen Donal Jackson suggest – Knock a couple more percent of our corporate rate -
      In fact we should tie the rate to the number of jobs created by investors. The more the jobs – the less corporate taxation.
      Investors take serious people seriously!

    • ocallaghanr

      Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter

    • Malcolm McClure

      Save the People says: “The Irish taxpayer has no legal or moral obligation to pay debts which are not Sovereign debts.”
      I disagree for the following reasons.
      Democracy requires that the electorate, in voting for a TD to represent them, devolves individual responsibility for political decisions upon their representative TD. Therefore a government, comprising a majority of representatives, when it makes decisions, is expressing the will of the electorate, who remain responsible for those decisions, good and bad, throughout that government’s term in office.
      The electorate voted repeatedly for Fianna Fail, in spite of abundant indications that the economy was overheating. That government failed in its duty to restrain the excess of the bankers, so it automatically assumed responsibility for the bank’s bad debts.
      Therefore that government, merely representatives of the electorate, was perfectly entitled to pass responsibility for those bad debts back to the electorate, which is what has happened.
      It is futile therefore for individuals to complain that the banks’ bad debts are not their responsibility. They should have realized that they would become their responsibility if they voted for FF, and that government made a mess of things.

      • @Malcolm

        The logic here is flawed:

        “Therefore a government, comprising a majority of representatives, when it makes decisions, is expressing the will of the electorate, who remain responsible for those decisions, good and bad, throughout that government’s term in office.”

        In any straw poll taken on this by the Irish media eg Sunday Independent, or elsewhere, Irish citizens clearly gave their thumbs down to bailing out the bankers.

        FF betrayed their mandate given to them by the people, that’s why they are out of office. Government received no mandate to save the bankers.

        FF led their Jonestown mass suicide crusade not in Guyana but in Ireland with the bankers, their kamikaze mission was against the will of the people.

        They repudiated the will of the people by denying them referenda on the issues involved.

        This amounted to a subversion of democracy by a form of financial fascism that is still with us.

        Its patently true that the will of the electorate is often betrayed by a government in office. But there are limits to any governments mandate in such cases, also such limits are often prescribed by ethical duties such as protecting citizens against the abuse of moral hazard.

        Government is not elected to destroy the Irish economy at the expense of the saving of their cronies.

        You write: “Democracy requires that the electorate, in voting for a TD to represent them, devolves individual responsibility for political decisions upon their representative TD.”

        The above example of inductive argument from the particular to the general is false logic and should never be regarded as scientific proof of anything whatsoever.

        Its on par with the following example of inductive proof for a universal proposition. (“This apple is red, therefore all apples are red.”)

        I vote for this TD, therefore every political decision made by that TD has my support or vote.

        If the TD decides to later endanger the economy with economically suicidal policies, its ridiculous to say I voted for those economically suicidal policies.

        Inductive arguments from the particular to the general are used to con people every day! Better to stick with deductive argument open to scientific verification, testing and proof:O)

        So, lets not fall for the confidence trick often put out that we all voted for FF to save the bankers and bondholders and burn Irish citizens! We didn’t.

        • Save the People

          Well said! ;)

          • @Malcolm,

            There appear to be some cobwebs around your brain on this: Actually, no, I didn’t know what was going on in the banks. In fact, I still don’t know in spite of the Honahan coverup report. If I had Moriarty’s resources, who took 14 yrs to unearth the Lowry/Dennis the Menace/Ben Dung shenanigans, I’d take a couple of loans, say the toxic loans relating to Ashfield Lawns ghost estate, investigate planning permission, loan approvals, bank bonuses related to, political connections, etc. A small book written by someone like Roger Boyes of Meltdown Iceland would uncover the muck of corruption across the country that led to every boreen being given its ghost estate.

            Maybe you have some political ambitions yourself that might explain psychophantic craven nonsense such as “their long week-ends and holidays are expressly for the purpose of sounding out opinions of ALL SHADES..”

            The reality was the brown paper bag, the country littered with ghost estates, a broken economy because of crony capitalism, wild west lawless and corrupt banking and you’re shifting the blame away from those who should carry the blame onto the citizens who turn out to be the biggest victims!

            Next up you’ll be attacking and blaming our independent judiciary as are the likes of crooks like Lowry and O Brien at the moment!

            RE “The evidence was all there that we were heading for disaster but did anybody take heed? Anybody?”

            Nope, the sly bastards were adept at concealing evidence, look at the offshore money scam trail operated by Dennis The Menace, our Maltese tax exile…

            The distribution of blame among the population at large to try and stick them with the bill is ridiculous.

            We need to focus a searchlight on the small number of politicians, developers, bankers, less than one hundred in number, whose money scams brought this country economically, politically and morally to its knees.

            Their corrupt legacy is still with us in Nama and the other bailout schenanigans going on right now.

        • Malcolm McClure

          cbweb; When a TD is elected in a constituency, that fact does not detach him/her from responsibility to respond to the concerns and opinions of ALL the electorate in that constituency. Quite the contrary, their long week-ends and holidays are expressly for the purpose of sounding out opinions of ALL SHADES of political colour in the consituency, and taking account of those opinions when voting for particular legislation.
          (NB TDs are there to represent ALL constituents, whether they supported them or not.)

          Granted there is a party whip, but when something as obvious as the construction boom develops the electorate was obliged to question their TDs closely about its sustainability.
          Everybody knows that money doesn’t grow on trees, but by failing to demand explanations from their representatives, the electorate failed in their democratic responsibility to hold their representatives severely to account. They were too busy partying to want to become known as a wet blanket.

          There were honourable exceptions, including, of course DMcW, who cast a cold eye on those proceedings. However, in recent published pieces IMHO David has lost his vision of the big picture. Far too much colour and not enough graphic detail. Post-modern economics leaves the reader with more questions than answers. Yet there are consistent threads running through the economics of every age and those show that trust and integrity are the only keys to enduring economic success.

          I trust, cbweb, that you will be persuaded by the veracity of this deductive argument.

          • @Malcolm

            “the electorate was obliged to question their TDs closely about its sustainability.”

            Are you joking? Nope, what you say there is a whole lot of tripe full of self delusion and self deception.

            I like the majority of the electorate hadn’t a clue what was going on behind our backs. Poor sod Citizens closest to the ponzi going on were those who had to fork out rip off bubble housing prices from 2005 onwards. No doubt you blame them for being in negative equity.

            The fact is the bubble scam was forced onto people by a small, select number of financial scammers in collusion with incompetent and probably corrupt politicians, who should be in jail, but instead the gobshites are dictating how we should get them out of ‘their’ mess.

            We assumed the bankers and politicians were minding the till. We were fooled and robbed at the same time.

            To try to pass the blame onto the electorate is akin to blaming the citizens of Fukushima for the safety of their local nuclear reactors.

            But I’ll be sure to pass on your views to any hospital porters about to lose their jobs because they didn’t alert their local td’s to the dangers of reckless development, reckless banking and corrupt and incompetent politicians:)

          • Malcolm McClure

            cobweb: Participative democracy is not a ‘set and forget’ system of government, so we must always remember that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. If we don’t maintain the fear of oblivion in the hearts of our representatives they will easily get away with all the scams for which FF became notorious.

            The signs of widespread corruption were there for years before the housing scam reached its climax, so it is an admission of sheer folly to say that you hadn’t a clue what was going on behind your back. David McW laid out some of the problems in ‘The Pope’s Children’ in early 2006, but the shenanigans had begun at least 10 years earlier with Denis O’Brien’s Esat adventure.

            Did you have your head in the sand during the Mini-CTC subcommittee hearings in 2001 or during the various AIB activities in USA under Buckley? The Galway tent and many others?
            The evidence was all there that we were heading for disaster but did anybody take heed? Anybody?

      • shtove

        You assume the voters knew what they were voting for.

        The banks operate by state licence, but it turns out the licences were regulated by servants of the banks. That’s how it would have been under any government, no matter which party appointed the taoiseach.

        The electorate didn’t vote for that system. It is a beast that eats their children.

        Repudiation is the legal and moral option. Anything else is suicide. The Irish have a great opportunity to survive and thrive, but they need to kill the banks stone dead.

  15. I like the analogy of layered defences David, though to be honest I didn’t process all of the details on first reading.

    I see this column still attracts those who would support the status quo, though I’ll bet not one of them has a red cent in an Irish bank!

  16. MjHi

    Well sorry for the lack of letters after my name but I’ll give you a brief of my story.40 year old male unemployed previously self employed.Took a very conservative approach to business & like most small irish businesses paid my way.I saw the banks crazy lending 1st hand.On one occasion i asked the bank for €40k & they told me to be worth their while I would need to borrow €80k so I refused.That happened several times & each time I refused.But it was all in vain cos the business went bust & so did my health.Now my credit rating is gone & I dont see how I can get back so I end up with nothing.So if these people are going to get paid fine but let the rest of us get something debt forgiveness or what ever it takes.Now I’m not an economist or a venture capitalist Im more important than that.I used to employ 10 people & pay my way.So dont burn the bond holders but dont burn me either.

  17. LOMAN

    Trim Castle was never defeated in a military attack; it just outlived its usefulness

    Interesting analogy however it was defeated by Cromwell. It was forced to become defunct with the arrival of new technology and new ways of thinking. Something which actually strengthens your case.

  18. Emigrant lass

    I don’t believe D McWilliams has lost the plot whatsoever. He is full of facts and hard core truth about the mess we are in. His articles often gives mention to some of the historic and picturesque assets we have in Ireland which contributed to the Tourism Industry in Ireland for years. Some of these by the way will be soon sold off on us if we are not careful!!
    I just hope that the few critics have as many opinions and vengence towards the a** holes who got us in this mess. Keep your energy for them eh!

    Anyhow whats the story about having money in savings bank accounts in Ireland? Is it not safe to keep it there? I’m freaking out because I want to return in a few years but I would like my savings to be still there if you know what I mean!! Am I crazy sending my hard earned Ozie Dollars home monthly??

    • Save the People

      put it in Ulsterbank, it’s guaranteed by bank of Scotland, and so far not in any danger.

      • StephenKenny

        I believe that Bank of Scotland was forced upon, and is now owned by, Lloyds Bank, a few years ago. Lloyds Bank is a totally crippled nationalised UK bank.

        • angelheart

          Any other suggestions? I’d really like to hear them.

        • Save the People

          Correct, and the British government, unlike us, are not going bankrupt any time soon so your cash is safe enough my friend :)

          • Deco

            Well…Britain has it’s own currency, so it can keep printing the money to pay it’s debts. The problem is that the more they print the less use it becomes, and the more inflation you get to see. And inflation favours asset holders, and debt holders, and punishes the providers of labour input and savings holders.

          • Save the People

            Maybe so Deco, but at least they will not end up in the Icelandic situation which is where our banks are currently headed.

  19. Igcuimhne81


    This article is the closest I’ve read for warning people to get their money out now!

  20. Defending The Indefensible :

    I wonder does the same parallel hold to defending The Depositors and The Taxpayers ?

    Afterall Le Trichet Noire does not smile to Ireland as he does to Charlemaigne Twins France & Germany .

    It maybe interesting to know that the Laws of Napoleon and Deutschland can be applied to discriminate Irish people on their own soil should they disobey …..and be extradited to Hibernovitch Camp

  21. Tull McAdoo

    Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
    Or close the wall up with our Croney dead.

    But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
    Then imitate the action of the tiger;
    Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
    Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
    To his full height.

    On, on, you noblest Bankers.
    Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
    Fathers that, like so many Seanie’s,
    Have in these parts from morn till even fought
    And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:

    Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
    That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
    Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
    And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
    Whose debts were made in Europe, show us here

    The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
    That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
    For there is none of you so mean and base,
    That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.

    I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
    Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
    Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
    Cry ‘God for Anglo, BOI, and Saint AIB.!’

  22. donal jackson

    We all have to realize the deal is made. We should now concentrate our efforts on how we repay this money and recapitalize our banks, with new rules in my opinion preventing them from ever doing again what they did and this applies to the Europeans also. There are ways but we need to discuss them and help our government to overcome this impasse? At the moment, the best we can hope for is a small reduction in the percentage rate, negligible in real terms. We must encourage Europe to see the errors of their ways and back to the negotiation table. The new tax proposal from them(CCCTB)indicates vulnerability in this area and we should act now. Remember Trichet has his orders from Merkel and Sarkozy. There is no independence of thought there.

    • angelheart

      |Are you Trichet in disguise?

      • donal jackson

        I am not sure if you’re referring to me but if you are then no I am not. I am just fed up reading and listening to rubbish been written and spoken. No-one, least of all me likes whats going on but we have to be pragmatic and before its too late. Do you honestly think we’re going to through this without co-operation between ourselves. This is our problem….wake up everybody there’s a war on. People are complaining like girls blouses and marching with pillows to a pillow fight while the Germans and French are coming with tanks…..does anyone know what they are?? Stop bitching and start using your heads. Trichet is a bag man for the extortionists of Europe and we must ignore him and do our own thing.

  23. Deco

    There is a sign on one of the approach roads to Trim. It says “Make historic decisions in Trim”. And we see business people looking over a balcony at the Castle Keep and walls. It is an attempt by a local hotel to get more business for the town. Well they are trying their best.

    Just wondering where our historic decisions have been made in recent years. Because the term “historic decision” has become a loaded statement in recent years.

    Fagans of Drumcondra, The Tullamore Court Hotel, The Shelbourne Hotel, FF HQ, The BankCentre in Ballsbridge, various banks up and down the length of Ireland, the back of Johnny Cash’s merk, the back of a carpark in Mulhuddart, The K-Club, Portmarnock, Doheny & Nesbitts, The tent at Ballybrit in August, Seanie’s mansions, the Savoy Hotel in London, the Irish pub in Budapest, various FF “think tank venues”, Paddy Cullens pub.

    And there was even an important decision in the Kitchen of Mr. and Mrs. McWilliams at 01:00 in the morning.

    We know that officially (sic) there were no important historic decisions made in Drury’s Glen.

    A really important decision was made in Trim Castle in 1649. After Cromwell blasted his way through Drogheda, the defenders of Trim had to evaluate how they would deal with his cannons. They admitted that they could not, so they abandoned the castle. Basically, if they stayed in the Castle, they would have been destroyed, and so would their castle. So they went into the countryside to fight a campaign where the odds were more in their favour.

    No, in the great annals of what we like to believe about ourselves as a nation, this seems like a terrible act of cowardice. Somehow or other the sentries in Trim lacked pride. They must have been an enormous embarrassment. Instead of being brave losers, and claim some sort of brownie points on the pride index, they disappeared. Cromwell did not have a large enough army to garrison Trim, Drogheda, Dundalk, etc.. His New Model Army, had spent the previous 8 years perfecting the art of seige warfare. It would have been a turkey shoot. Instead he got an empty castle. If you cannot win, then at least survive, to try and win another day. Trim did not become another Drogheda. The families that should have been slaughtered survived. Some of them no doubt went on to become a thorn in his side in other ways. The decision to flee had consequences too.

    In management speak, you have to know when to pick your battles. And you have to have figured out where you are standing when you make historic decisions !!!!

  24. Deco

    Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe Trim Castle inspired Brian Lenihan to arrive at that elusive concept called “Long term Economic value” ????

    800 years old, and probably paid for by now.

  25. Tim

    Michael Burke on Karl Whelan’s suggestion for resolving banking crisis: Debt-equity swap for banks won’t work:

    • I agree with Michael Burke but also add the point that even with expansion of EFSF the costs for the EZ are prohibitive especially when one considers needs of Portugal, Spain and Greece.

      However, this creates a simple either/or situation.

      Either the EZ come up with a workable alternative that will deal with our overall banking problems allowing our economy to return to markets and begin to grow again; or, we simply repudiate the debts of private banks.

      As the latter is unacceptable to Trichet who has erroneously made bailout contingent on saving banks and bondholders, we have no option but to consider leaving the EZ.

      We should be actively pursuing other alternatives to the poisoned bailout chalice offered to us by Trichet!

  26. bara

    Look there is no point talking obout this anymore there is only one action to take,that is put it to the people
    by way of a referendum as i understand the constitution,It says where the soverigh country is in danger the people must decide,”and whatever the result”then we have a starting point to move forward with the blessing of the people.This is called democracy GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE AND FOR THE THE PEOPLE

  27. Colin

    I don’t know why there’s been such a huge reaction to paddyjones’ post. He is true to his form since he’s regularly dismissing david’s articles as purely and solely populist. He’s a Wind Up Merchant (WUM), so pay no attention to him. Look back over the articles and see for yourselves.

  28. uchrisn

    On a side point I wonder how many of the bondholders shorted the same Irish bank shares they had bonds in as a risk management exercise. In other words if the bank goes banrupt they lose their bond money but make a profit on shorting shares so come out around even. They would have made a large profit on that shorting transaction since 2008 which they would be expected to offset their losses on the bonds. However many of them got their bonds refunded already, so happy days, great profit on a shorting transaction and get their bonds back.
    I’m sure many of the bondholders also have Credit Default Swaps. This would mean they won’t lose their money, AIG, Bank of America, Goldman, Societe General will. Or in other words the US government. Did Inda get permission from Obama?

    • uchrisn

      The latest Fed stress tests for the US banks went swimmingly and they are buying back stocks from the US government. That means that they might be able to take a hit from the CDS payouts to Bondholders of Irish banks.

      • uchrisn

        On the point of corporation tax, it has been commented by respectable people that there are many corporations who are using Ireland to dodge taxes. For example having an office with one employee but posting 20 million of business through Ireland. This is giving us false Gross Domestic Product figures.
        This should be chased up and eliminated. Also Ireland should listen to the arguments of its European partners about corporation tax rates. They are not asking them to be equalised just risen a little. Ireland can be competitive with slightly higher corporation tax, still lower than our european partners.

  29. Philip

    The joke is that the real rate of Corpo tax is in fact lower in France and Germany. And worse still…our local small business cannot avail of this wonderful tax rate we have in Ireland.

  30. Philip

    Looks like the end of the road folks. Ireland will be out of the EU in the next few weeks or we default. Some choice.

    Reality on the ground is that businesses are collapsing all over the place. Domestic economy is dissolving and anyone with any cash needs to start migrating it to an non-Irish account asap.

    • Deco

      Nah, Europe meets every problem and crisis with a fudge. It is nearly sure to happen again. Another fudge. May as well have the Ditherer in charge…

    • Dorothy Jones

      Report of a Rumour on Zero Hedge:
      The 2 Year Ireland-Bund spread has just hit an all time record wide of 835 bps, following unconfirmed rumors that either Ireland or Allied Irish Bank has missed a coupon payment…… we expect Ireland to approach Greek default risk within days. This is especially true since nothing in Europe’s fiscal situation has changed and the dire funding requirements for debt rolling and deficit funding, are, well, dire.

  31. Deco

    Well…it looks as if the Tombstone, Arizona Territory (Banking’s Wild West) has finally found itself a real sherrif. Wyatt Earp has even got bullets.

    Next up time to face down the Drumm and Drummer, Fingers and the boyos in the OK Corrall….

  32. In ‘defending the indefensible’ DmcW has unearthed the skullduggery virus, check if you have it:

    1. Do you feel the need to lecture other Irish citizens on the integrity and responsibility of bankers and bondholders?

    2. Do you feel compelled to lecture Irish citizens on the need for Irish citizens to pony up for the debts of bankers and bondholders?

    3. Do you feel compelled to deny any right to vote for Irish citizens by way of referendum on whether their taxes should pay for the gambling debts of private bankers.

    If 1, 2, 3 or combination of, then you may have the ‘skullduggery virus’.

    You may have a ‘Suds’ variant of it, if you represent G Sucks bondholders and any of the above; you may have the ‘Firesale Bruton’ variant, if you represent IFSC bondholders.

    Most common variant of all is the ‘local feeder’ variant, if you are working in financial services for eg Nama, or the banks, or otherwise making political or commercial profit from the stitchup of Irish citizens, you could have a very bad case of it.

    I’m not aware of no cure for it:)

  33. Gege Le Beau

    Our banks are empty castles, built on dodgy foundations, sinking in a swamp of debt while those in charge fire the employees (troops on the walls), asset strip the building, until all is left is the CEO (King) and the board members (supportive knights).

    We know what happens to Kingdoms in decline, they get taken over by more powerful forces and so it will be in Ireland. A kind of financial Norman and Germanic takeover with the odd Spanish armada up the Liffey to the IFSC.

    Given the overall practices of the banks, the medieval period is perfectly analogous, they have not moved on an inch in mindset, only in ‘technological execution’ of many a citizen in the public square.

    In these challenging times, even more important to keep our spirits alive, hence:

    Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail – complete with French taunting
    (not too dissimilar to Michael Noonan’s quest to Brussels, like some Irish monk of old, trying to keep the Irish flame burning brightly on the Continent we once, reputedly, saved from the Dark Ages):

    • Gege Le Beau

      Interesting thing about the remarkably designed 17th century Charles Fort in Kinsale, unbeknownst to the Irish defenders, the Fort could not have been located in a worst possible location as it was overlooked by high ground upon which the English forces located their canon and hammered the place for a few hours until the the bedraggled Irish emerged only to be slaughtered to a man.

      Might be a lesson in history in there somewhere.

      Battle of Kinsale

  34. Deco

    Business as usual in Ireland.

    Crony businessmen and politicians with a taste for the good life….they haven’t gone away yah-kno…

    Throw them in the dungeon….

    Of course because this is a tribunal of Inquiry, there will be nobody jailed. That would require a completely seperate legal procedure.

    • Gege Le Beau

      The cost of the tribunal is almost (not quite) a bigger issue that the issue it was investigating, while the length of time beggars belief.

      • Deco

        Expect rather unusual coverage of this event on O’Briens radio stations. Moaning about the cost. Moaning about loads of stuff. Maybe a swipe at Lowry.

        And complete silence on the issue of O’Brien himself and what he was doing.

        O’Brien does not have to worry about the cost of the Tribunal. He is tax resident in Malta. As Michael O’Leary’s promotional cartoon put it beside a picture of the smiling O’Brien standing on Malta.

        fly to Malta – you only pay taxes.

        O’Brien needs to be brought to account. Usual tax-avoider behaviour. Getting his picture taken as he donates a few grand to a hospital in Haiti. It is all superficial. A superficial veneer while he avoids his duties as a citizen like the rest of us.

        • Colin

          Charity is supposed to be done in private, anonymously, isn’t it? or else it aint charity, am I right?

          • Deco

            Fair point.

            This thing of “high-profile-charity-gestures” is a bit of a PR campaign. And usually this sort of pretence is followed by media elements eager to suck up to their bosses, and show the donor in favourable light.

            “Support our advertising sponsors”, and in some cases “support our substantial shareholders”.

          • Gege Le Beau

            That’s what Christ recommended, for it to be done with humility and anonymously, in politics and business though the following has been interpreted in an entirely different way.

            Matthew 6:3

            “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.”

          • Deco

            Thanks for that. I think that quote describes the situation perfectly well.

            Now there’s an idea.
            Put on a Denis O’Brien mask. Go to public events And carry a placard with “Matthew 6:3″ on it. Just like yer man who goes around carrying a yellow placard with “John 3:27″ (not too sure if that is correct.

            And there is one thing for certain. RTE will notice. And RTE will broadcast. In fact it might even become a trend for repeating for other high profile tax efficient millionaires, or concerns like “every little helps”…

    • Deco

      Actually, I have to say the best coverage for the Moriarty Tribunal Findins are from Pravda RTE.

      In fact Pravda RTE are holding nothing back here. Really digging into Denis the Menace. Because Denis is competition for RTE.

      The Denis O’Brien media is almost silent. And they are talking about the cost of the tribunal repeatedly. Missing the point surely ?

  35. Save the People

    I would like to know David McWilliam’s opinion on my suggestion, (posted earlier), regarding seeking financial assistance from China, nationalising the gas fields and seeking China’s assistance in developing our gas resources.

    David…What do you think?

    • Deco

      You must be joking. This is an idea that passes for policy in many Bananna republics.

      Better idea. Do it ourselves. China tends to look after the regime, and grab the resources.

      We do not need China. We have Tullow Oil.

      • The Tribunal Results of Maurice Artois is very interesting and arriving at the peak of the Moon Wobble will leave a stain on the Nation that forever will remain in our lifetime.

        It will be the beginning of a New Change that will ferment more than alcohol .A new chapter has begun into our mainstream hollow culture of ‘nothingness’and fostered by the same Irish Politics and cohorts.

        It is more interesting that the family of the captain of this report is a south keerie rustic and in another time a neighbour of Daniel O’ Connell.

        Up De Rebels.

      • Save the People

        Deco, you are missing the point here I fear. The purpose of involving China is obtain finances at proper rates and over reasonable periods to keep the IMF and EU jackals off our backs.

        The purpose for using China to develop our gas resources is because they have the expertise and the finance to do so.

        The net result of this would be to supply us with a revenue stream which allows the restructure of our banking system without massive taxation on the ordinary people. It also supplies us with the revenue to repay China for the loan.

        To my knowledge United States and Russia are not considered bananna republics. Angola who have a similar arrangement with China in relation to developing their resources have halved their national debt since agreeing terms with China. They have also consistently met their loan repayments.

        • adamabyss

          We can hardly afford to be choosy either about the company we keep; besides the old Anglo-American alliance and their toxic banks and derivatives, plus the lifestyles they think we should all be living is hardly a shining example of true humanity. Bring on the Chinese is what I say as long as we negotiate terms that are in our favour (not our strong point mind you). I’d be willing to start learning Mandarin OR Cantonese tomorrow if I saw the value in it. I only got a job in the Caribbean because I can speak Hungarian. China is not perfect, but where is? Look at the lies the Yanks tell everyone nowadays and the decline of the American way of life for the normal working man over there. We need to work our arses off and be ruthless when it comes to protecting the way of life that we have on this island (note the geographical reference, not the nationalist one, because I don’t give a toss who issues my passport or what name they put on it. However, I do care about the place I grew up in and the people around me).

        • Deco

          The first thing Beijing has expertise at doing is looking after the regime, while the regime directs the resources from the people to China.

          We have political influence in the US (the Democrats/Tammany Hall), and in the UK (in the three political parties there are people of Irish heritage). Basically, you might get some leeway from the US and Britain. But the Chinese regime will just do whatever suits themselves.

          Sri Lanka, Burma, Sudan, Zimbabwe, North Korea, etc…usually something along the lines of arnaments for ore, hydrocarbons, resources…..

          • Save the People

            Deco with the greatest of respect, our influence with the U.S and the U.K will do little to assist us in the finance and development of our gas fields. Quite the contrary in fact. China’s arrangement with Angola has worked well and in the interests of both China and Angola.

            Furthermore,given the fact the U.S owe China over
            $1 trillion, I would rather be enhancing relations with China. You’re notion of the modern Chinese “regime” seems a little out of touch with the times.

    • shtove

      Why make it so complicated? Why replace one racketeer with another?

      Look at Iceland – kill the banks stone dead, then flog off their assets.

      Property prices will collapse, but does anyone doubt that that’s where they’re headed anyway?

      Then relax bankruptcy rules where the creditors are banks (not business creditors), so people can free themselves and start again.

      Investors and new banks will fill the vacuum. End of nightmare.

      • Save the People

        @shtove. Maybe so, but why put ourselves through the initial hardship of your less complicated solution, while allowing Royal Dutch Shell to steal our gas resource which is estimated by Shell to be worth 11 trillion euro?

        Our nation should be in a comfortable economic position given our natural resources. The Moriarty Tribunal found that corruption was involved in the issuing of telecoms licences. Given that Ray Burke and Bertie Ahearn made the most absurd law changes imaginable to the benefit of the oil companies and the detriment of the State, I have no doubt that similar corruption was afoot.

        Natioanlise the gas fields, take back what the crooked politicians stole from us, and allow the people of Ireland to benefit from this collossal resource. Surely you agree?

  36. Tim

    Folks, A reminder of the vampires that want to bankrupt Ireland : Anglo Irish Bank Bondholders | Newswhip:

    …. just because, it seems like some here have forgotten……

  37. Land n Gold

    David Mc’s day of reckoning may be near….
    Citi Bank Recommends Buying Irish CDS In Advance Of “Nightmare On Kildare Street”

  38. Defending The Indefensible

    Did the Tribunal Report do that ?

  39. This is Paul Moriarty on The Moriarty Report!
    How’s about that for authority?
    Anyway please examine the following social equation;

    The level of guilt of a “Respected Citizen” is directly proportional to their perceived popularity!
    i.e. It has nothing to do with whether they did it or not!
    It has absolutely everything to do with their “good name”.
    On this basis I declare that the protagonists mentioned in the report are as innocent as any Callelly you care to think of!

  40. Deco

    It is best that you do not criticize Denis O’Brien or Lowry. Firstly, the Irish Times and RTE will stretch this story for all that it worth. So O’Brien’s media empire has competition, and they will undermine him as much as possible. In fact their bread and butter depends on them hitting O’Brien hard. Phoenix Magazine will dig in hard for months. O’Brien’s media outfits will focus on Lowry, not O’Brien.

    So will Michael Martin, various SF TDs, and the ULA. In fact Healy Rae might even run clear of Lowry at this stage. O’Brien has political opposition. His news stations are consistently pro-FG, and soft on the ILP. In particular I expect the former GP TDs to be biting at the bit to have a go at O’Brien.

    More critically, O’Brien has serious commercial enemies. The O’Reillys loathe him, despite whatever they say publicly. Mick O’Leary relished swiping at him when he gets a chance over his taxation policy. This really undermines O’Brien a lot. Ben Dunne seems to be implying with his speech concerning the need for prosecution, that O’Brien and Lowry should “do time”.

    O’Brien has allies also. Allies like Seanie Fitz, Drummer Boy, and The Kaiser. With friends like that who needs to create their own bad publicity……

    Basically, O’Brien is good at accumulating enemies. His ambition drives him to run over other people. His ego is something which everybody publicly overstates. The real question arises, “what drives him psychologically ?”. And the follow up question “where will that lead ?

    O’Brien now stands ready to collect a massive windfall from selling his Carribean mobile phone business to Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire.

    I expect O’Brien to use the money to buy the one thing he is elusively chasing. Restoration of his image. The veneer. This means that he will try to takeover control of Indo News Media. He might also increase his stake in Aer Lingus. And there will be other moves also.

    O’Brien could end up having more influence over Indo News Media. But you do not need to worry. Pravda-RTE and the Irish Times will fight O’Brien more and more, the more powerful he becomes.

    Let them at it. Keep getting the message across. Over time they will undermine each other. And this will be to the benefit of everybody. There has been far too much consensus in the media.

    We do not want to see O’Brien reducing your circulation. Stay neutral as much as possible. Because we can be sure O’Brien will not get away with it. Like the defenders in Trim Castle, know where and when to pick your battles.

    • Deco

      Mistyped a sentence there. It should be “His ego is something which everybody understates in public”.

    • RE “It is best that you do not criticize Denis O’Brien or Lowry”

      There’s enough authoritative criticism in The Moriarty Report.

      Report should go immediately to the DPP, prosecution and trial prepared asap, and Mountjoy prepared for perpetrators of perhaps the greatest fraud ever carried out in the State!

      Now why do I think that won’t happen in Ireland?

      • Deco

        Kenny (under massive public pressure it must be admitted) has signalled that the Moriarty Tribunal Report is being sent to the DPP.

        I am more shocked at the thought that the right thing is actually happening. In Ireland we are never shocked when stuff gets shoved under the carpet – because that is the normal way things have been handled.

        Well, it is a step forward.

        FG have a reason to want to cleanse FG of the stain of Lowry. Hopefully O’Brien will also get investigated. The real big fish to be fried is O’Brien.

        • Gege Le Beau

          These boys and girls are being given remarkable air-time.

          I found this quite astonishing (the comments reveal the anger out there):


          • Deco

            Gege – thanks for that.

            According to Miriam O’Callaghan’s quotation, Sarah Carey’s first testimony session was incorrect. In effect Carey was fibbing.

            Carey dismissed all of the stuff against her with a laugh.

            This is not a laughing matter as far as this citizen is concerned. Carey should stop demeaning us with this nonsense !!!

          • Gege Le Beau

            @ Deco – I think if you read section II of the Moriarty report then you will see the issues are very clear, while Carey writes the following in today’s Irish Times:

            Article title:
            Lying to tribunal over leak is black spot on my record

            Concluding lines:

            “I ended up in the car park of the Four Courts with a senior counsel telling me that by denying the leak I had obstructed the tribunal, which was a criminal offence and that I could be jailed.

            At the very least, I could expect to pay my own costs in the tribunal and indeed might have the costs of their investigation imposed on me. Furthermore, since I falsely instructed my solicitor my legal team was firing me as a client and told me to get further advice elsewhere.

            Since then I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the stupidity of my actions and feel genuinely ashamed about the lie. I should have admitted it straight away and for someone who preaches regularly about the necessity of honesty, it’s a black spot on my record.

            All I can say at this remove is that every lesson I’ve learned has been the hard, horrible, humiliating way. In the greater scheme of things, and in the context of Moriarty’s report, my part is peripheral, and yet, not my finest hour.”

          • coldblow


            Fair play to her. I don’t agree with her politics but I admire her.

        • @Deco
          Maybe O’ Briens Sandwich Bar will now have a new meaning !

  41. Brian Dobson did a very good interview on DOB on 6pm news yesterday and almost rattled him in that process and actually got DOB to acknowledge he gave money only to have him retract it immediately after he realised he said it .

    It reminds me of Macbeth : ‘Is this a dagger I see before me ….the handle towards my hand …come let me clutch thee…’ etc

    Blood on The Sword – what a terribe place for the soul to be…… is already gone on him.

    Spartacus had Honour and Nobility and Won .

    • Dorothy Jones

      That’s a great reference!

      • @Dorothy

        Thanks Dorothy …..the sun is shining today .

        • Dorothy Jones

          Yes and the moon was brilliant the last few days….

          • Alas, after tomorrow The Circus leaves town and there will be no more trapeize artists swinging on their toes without safety nets and no more big surprises we have become accustomed to in past weeks ….for from friday the Moon Wobble will have begun her journey away from us taking away all the recent memories we have seen in the great changes we have witnessed on world stage and in the chambers of Maurice Artois .

            Now we will be left with sullen faces and mundane insignificant chores and begin to feel our pulses resonate to the thought of what might come next and when .

  42. Tim

    Max Keiser: – Leveraged buyout of Ireland by IMF almost complete. It didn’t have to end this way.

  43. Malcolm McClure

    coldblow: I stood aside from the election issues for a variety of reasons, but incidentally because I was wary of all the choices offered. The obvious alternative FG was led by Enda Kenny, who I found to be a rather grey character, lacking charisma, when I listened to his speech at the MacGill Summer School. I now suspect that I misread and underestimated his leadership qualities. What might those concealed but sterling qualities be? Could he simply be a sraightforward honest man, shy in the presence of blustering orators? If so, this is just what Ireland needs at the moment, and his warm reception in Washington seems to confirm that this forms at least US estimates of his reliable character.

    Turning to your recall of my earlier support for austerity, I think that this remains a necessary purgative of past excesses, for the following reasons.
    Firstly, Ireland played fast and loose with their partners in EU who had generously provided the seed corn for economic progress during the early 1990s. These excesses needed to be reined in and his has now happened.
    Secondly, once we prove to have learnt the necessary lessons and put our house in order, including rigorous adherence to European standard of financial probity, we will find that our membership of the EU will mean that they are obliged to prevent our people from falling too far below the average EU prosperity level. This might mean that we have to tighten our belts for a year or two but a Lenten fast never did anybody any harm.

    Your Karl Whelan link is well expressed but I don’t recall that I have called for trust and civilized behaviour to be defended in the case of govt and bank debt, yet for the opposite when it concerns welfare, PS pay and jobs etc. There is general agreement that the latter factors had gotten completely out of kilter with comparable responsibilities abroad. That was allowed to happen while FF was in charge and will take time to remedy. A good start has been made as Whelan observes but a lot more needs to be done. Hopefully Kenny will lay out equitable plans for burden sharing during his first 100 days in office.

    • coldblow

      Hi Malcolm

      I checked your earlier post again and I take your point that you hadn’t called for breaking the rules re welfare and the PS. I must have assumed that if one end wasn’t going to give the other end would have to instead, seeing as most people seem to be arguing that something will have to give.

      I was watching Newsnight either last night or the night before about their budget there and the penny seemed to be dropping that, leaving aside questions of fairness and morality and looking at the practicalities, austerity was in fact slowing growth and, if anything, worsening the national debt. (The Treasury have now revised growth forecasts downwards for the second time.) Time will tell.

      Just on the subject of PS costs, the following latest article from Michael Taft

      refers to a measurement known as power purchasing parities (ppp), or how far your € will go in various countries. Wages have to be higher here as one of the biggest problems in Ireland seems to be the inbuilt high cost of living, including food (cf the fuss some months ago about Tesco’s refussal to reveal their margins for their Irish operations), services, professional costs etc. And housing of course. I don’t know how that will be tackled. This is the kind of thing Crotty was grappling with.

    • coldblow

      By the way, Eoghan Harris was proved right about Kenny. And John Waters. It was just the usual media consensus. Mind you, they used to do a great imitiation of him on Green Tomatoes on the radio.

      • coldblow

        Meant to add that leadership is unimportant compared to policies. Let’s see FG tackle their own pillars of support. What would they be? Legal and medical professions, big farmers, rentiers? They won’t. (When you look into their eyes Lucinda and Leo remind me of a pair of sharks. Which I suppose indicates a ruthless streak, but how will that be shown?)

  44. paulmcd



    TOTAL Debt (Public+Private) to GDP: Portugal=439%; IRELAND=940%

    4-minute video, Wednesday 23 March, at:

    • paulmcd

      Peter the Pontificator (aka “Suds”) would have us believe that “we have been here before, in the 1980s” when public debt to GDP was over 100%.

      He conveniently ignores the issue of private debt and the fact that, at the temporary peak in the property market in 1981, mortgagees would have purchased homes costing no more than 2.5 times gross income for a maximum duration of 20-25 years, as compared with 8 to 10 times average income for up to 40 years in the recent boom.

      • paulmcd

        I should have added that INTEREST RATES started to fall in the 1980s while today it is looking likely that they will start rising.

    • Deco

      Hilarious, the way they put a confident spin on it at the end.

      The whole thing is based on the assumption that the German taxpayers can get suckered with the bill.

      Do the German taxpayers know anything about how mobil phone licences are awarded in this country of our ? Heck, we did not even know ourselves until the other day, though we suspected as much for a decade…..

  45. adamabyss

    Did David write an article in The Independent today? Not that I can see. Maybe he’s thrown in the towel finally? Banging his head against a brick wall. None of the muppets in power ever listen to him anyway. What a thankless job.

  46. wills


    Apologess on the delay in my reply to your eloquent considered reply to my entreaty.

  47. Enjoyable article.
    On a seperate not I could never understand why such a fine looking castle as Trim has not been totally restored into something functional, including the outer walls .Are there structural reasons with the main keep? The walls do look very thick so I imagine they are sound. I think part of it has been restored and there is a tourist centre there. The new hotel the far side of the road looks miles out of place beside the Castle and the cottages.

    • coldblow

      It would cost a fortune. Restoring the built heritage is done to the highest standards and is very expensive. Then there would be large annual maintenance costs for the structures and probably additional staffing costs (current H&S regs I think probably would require more than one member of staff on duty at any one time in most places no matter how quiet it is for staff safety). Further expenditure on heating and lighting, car parking, coach parking, disabled access, toilets, tearooms, pest control, waste disposal, providing facilities for usage by local groups etc. Apart from the large one-off capital costs for a major heritage site you’d be looking at well in excess of €1m per year in running costs.

      There would be pressure from powerful event promoters to use it for outdoor pop music festivals and tasteful indoor performances of chamber music. Wealthy art owners would want to exhibit their collections there (suitably acknowledged) with attendant curatorial and conservation costs. With the support of the local authority the grounds would be used for an annual concept-art exhibition and the organizers would put pressure on the state to retain one or more of the pieces or “installations” as permanent features (perhaps a giant hologram of a toilet roll on the wall of the keep). Or a mediocre 18thC miniature portrait or an obscure farming implement with connections to the castle or area would turn up in Timbuctoo and a fanfare made about its safe return to Erin, meriting an extended feature on Nationwide. The Cabinet would meet there once. The Minister would open the new toilets. RTE Sport would propose doing a short piece there about the Meath GAA team before a future All Ireland Final, with the star player dressed up in armour. Barbra Streisand would probably drop in at some stage. An Post would issue a commemorative stamp. Local landowners would seek full compensation for any encroachment on their own activities and their public representatives would lobby the state to acquire further land from them adjoining the site.

      When the costs get too much the state might, following an extensive and expensive consultative process on the options for future usage (including one proposal from Foras na Gaeilge to turn it into a new all-Irish college under NUI in view of its links with nearby Rathcairn and another, supported by the ILP, to turn it into a women’s refuge), and having weighed up the likely reaction from the IT and vested interests, attempt to offload it onto a high-net worth individual.

      Time was Trim Castle, like most castles in Ireland, was open to everyone and I don’t remember any supervision. There would however have been an OPW sign threatening you in English and antiquated Irish not to cause any damage, but it wouldn’t have said anything about the castle itself. You just walked in and took your chance climbing up as high as you dared. I once took a woman there. God knows what I was thinking, it was an Alan Partridge moment (remember the owl sanctuary?).

      I recall that castles were generally deliberately slighted (half ruined) after the English Civil war, I think they had mostly been on the side of the King. Anyway, they were obsolete with the advent of modern warfare and the use of explosives, more of a hindrance than a help to be honest. It took a long time for this to sink in however as they were building ever more enormous fortifications up until a hundred years ago (see for ex. Sebald’s Austerlitz).

      I personally think castles and stately homes look more authentic in ruins.

      • Interesting views, I think with most old buildings once the roof goes the walls don’t last much longer as water gets into the absorbent lime mortar between the blocks, bricks or stones and then when the frost comes, the saturated mortar expands and crumbles, next the blocks or stones become loose and drop out with gravity or the whole wall goes in a storm.
        Im not sure how castles are built, maybe the rocks are large and cut square so are held together by gravity more so than mortar?
        Maybe there is no morter used in it? Either way if it is being damaged by weather, I would love to see a simple roof put on it to preserve it for future generations even if nothing more is done with it. It would seem a better investment than paying the pensions of ministers, TDs and royal presidents.

        • coldblow

          Yes, it’s a fine building and well worth a bit of money spent of preserving it for the future.

          I don’t know about Trim, but generally the way massive stone keeps were built was to fill in the space between the inner and outer layers of stone with rubble. Then it was figured out that it wasn’t too difficult to cause a corner to collapse either by ramming or by mining underneath (using wooden props which were then burnt). Once there was a breach at the bottom of the wall the weight of the rest of the wall would just collapse down from above. (as you say yourself) I believe Rochester Castle in England has 3 square towers in the corners of the keep but the 4th one is circular as by the time it had been mined the new design was round rather than square, so there were no corners in the replacement tower to get at.

          This is what I used to tell the kids when I was teaching so I suppose most of it is true.

          • Hope the Warriors wore hi-vis vests & hard hats when they were underming the castle walls. Im guessing your a History Teacher, just curious are you from around Meath? What other subjects do you teach?

          • Actually there could be a lot of merit in restoration of these old castles tourists love.

            So, knock em all.

            But enforce a planning/heritage law that the old stone must be used in the restoration, that new plans for eg hotels, shopping plaza etc be built in close duplication insofar as this is possible, with the previous build.

            This would build on our valuable heritage, help tourism and make a public works programme help employment and make something valuable that would work in the future.

            The above is not without successful precedents eg

  48. Deco

    Where is Lenihan ? We need somebody to talk about reputational damage and tell us that our reputation is being saved…..

    Don’t worry folks. News of this murky little deal will not go out into the world and cause other people to avoid doing business with our crony capitalist K-club Clique. Save as investing money in bricks and mortar. Solid as the dividend from a D4 bank. As good as a collection of Denace the Menace in the attic building up value all the time.

  49. Deco

    GNP still going down. This time less than before. It will be interesting to see if there is any improvement at all in the national balance sheet. Probably not, due to the effect of deposit reductions out of the covered Irish financial institutions.

    The commentary of Dr. Gurdgiev in particular will be highly informative, with regard to where things are really moving, and what this all means.

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