Earth to NAMA and Lenihan: Banks are only out for themselves

Like a difficult teenager changing its Facebook status to flag up a bad mood, NAMA has issued a revised business plan – and it makes very grim reading.

A now distinctly nervous looking NAMA has announced that in “the most stressed scenario of its lifetime” it is set to lose €800m – rather than the €4.8bn profit its proud parents had promised at its birth just last October.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and NAMA chairman Frank Daly both expressed anger and surprise that bankers had been even less forthcoming with the truth regarding their toxic loan books than they are with credit to what’s left of Irish industry.

Begging the question: will this Government ever learn the lesson that bankers are only out for themselves?

Mr Lenihan was so rattled by the situation he even turned up at a rare face-to- face encounter with the Dáil press corps to try to calm everything down.

We’d probably turn a cool billion-euro profit he breezily announced, but even if we do hit the worst case scenario of €800m losses, no harm done, we’ll just crank a few levies on the banks. Sorted.

Except, of course, that every “worst case scenario” so far presented by this Government in the economic slump has turned out in hindsight to have a been a golden paradise of potential happiness when compared with the disastrous end game that would eventually befall the country. So why should it be any different this time?

Labour’s Eamon Gilmore pointed-up the Government’s form for “financial fairytales ” and warned their “hanky-panky” with the banks always seemed to leave the country in deeper trouble than before.

While Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny compared the “sweetheart deals” done with developers to the laughably threadbare help being offered to the tens of thousands of families struggling with their mortgages – and the 250,000 more households who make up Generation Negative Equity.

It took six months to set up the “task force” on the mortgage crisis and another four months for it to deliver its anaemic, largely pointless recommendations.

The Greens had pushed for something concrete in the proposals, but when the meagre nature of the measures emerged during Leader’s Questions they were as invisible in the Dáil chamber as their influence has clearly been at the cabinet table. The only firm conclusion was a negative one – that the moratorium not be extended beyond 12 months, just as the banks had wanted.

The rest of the recommendations were all about talk, talk, talk – as tens of thousands more families faced the inevitable slide into debt, debt, debt.

And as Brian Cowen faced down a feeble Fianna Fáil rebellion – and kept his job for the sole reason that nobody else in the party wanted it. Mary O’Rourke admitted the game was up and the Government would be booted out at the next election – and on yesterday’s performance, it’s not hard to see why she thinks that.


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