We’re snowed under by banks, bondholders and a bad government

LAST week David McWilliams had his one-man show, Outsiders, in Tralee. I have never been much of a theatre-goer and the idea of spending an hour and a half listening to one person was not particularly appealing, especially when I tend to become decidedly restless, if the priest goes on even for 10 minutes with a Sunday sermon.

The McWilliams show was riveting. There was a full house and he spoke for an hour and a half without a break. I did not hear even one person cough throughout the whole show. People were obviously enthralled by his arguments.

McWilliams contends that the bailout will ultimately sink the Irish economy. He made an excellent case. Maybe some people there were not convinced, but I did not hear even one person complain. He answered questions for about half an hour afterwards, but nobody took issue with him.

His show amounted to a demolition of what has been happening in relation to the €85 billion bailout. Most people do not know any bondholders, or their actual function. It is strange that we have been asked to pauperise ourselves to fund international speculators that nobody seems to know.

Members of the government seem to think the bondholders must be protected in the national interest. Those people gambled but we lose. And the biggest losers are the blind and some of the most vulnerable in society.

Bondholders were making lots of money out of their bonds for years, but now the Government has decided that society must take the hit for these people. It is a wonder that the Government did not give the money back to the losers at Galway Races when Fianna Fáil had the tent there. On second thought, of course, it is not surprising, because that would have made more sense because they would have been keeping the money in the country and keeping it in circulation.

Nobody with any sense of justice could endorse what has been done. People who had no hand, act or part in the Anglo-Irish Bank fiasco are being compelled to bailout the culprits there. It is not European Union or the International Monetary Fund that are bailing out the losers; in the long run it is the Irish people.

This week we had another breathtaking fiasco with Allied Irish Banks paying some €40 million in bonuses to certain members of staff. It is not their money, so why should they care?

The clowns running the Government are responsible for this. Brian Lenihan has decided that they will not be allowed to do it again, so he is threatening to impose a 90% tax on such bonuses.

The irresponsibility of bankers has been apparent for over two years as they have continued to pay themselves such bonuses, not with the bank’s money, but with public money. The Government seem to think that they should not be blamed, because that they did not see this coming. This is another example of the government’s own gross ineptitude and pathetic lack of leadership. When it comes to any kind of vision, they are totally blind.

AIB should not have been allowed to do this. They did something similar in the 1980s shortly after the Government bailed them out. They promptly paid a dividend to their shareholders. The bank can pay what its desires with its own money when it solvent again.

Some Fianna Fáil backbenchers have since made the Taoiseach see reason, and there will be a Dáil vote on the bailout next Wednesday. Was the Government afraid of a handful of the backbenchers, or was it the threat from Sinn Féin to challenge the constitutionality of their behaviour in court that compelled the climb down?

This Government has actually been so bad that it has been making even Sinn Féin look positively good. In the recent Red C poll Sinn Féin was at 16%, which was 3% ahead of Fianna Fáil. This is a graphic measure of the ineptitude of the present government.

Sinn Féin seems to be doing particularly well among people in the 18 to 24 age bracket. They are too young to remember the horrors committed by Sinn Féin and the PIRA during much of the latter part of the last century. The alarm bells should be ringing within Fianna Fáil because young people are the future.

Of course, we should welcome the fact that Sinn Féin is now taking the constitutional path. It threatened to take the government to court on constitutional grounds last week, and before that it exposed the government on constitutional grounds by getting the High Court to rule against the persistent delay in calling the Donegal South West by-election. It really sad that even Sinn Féin are exposing the democratic deficit within Fianna Fáil.

Last week we had the further sordid spectacle of the government negotiating with independents for their support. That would never have happened in de Valera’s time. It amounts to encouraging extortion, because the Government were essentially inviting independents to hold them to ransom.

Independents are entitled to vote as they wish, but there should never be any room for suspicion that anyone could subvert our democracy by blackmailing the Government. Within days there were suggestions that the Greens were going to delay in pulling the plug on the Government until they got some of their own legislation enacted.

OUR whole system of government is now in crisis from top to bottom. The local councils are pathetic.

Each night the news was warning people not to walk with their hands in their pockets. Having been in Canada at the height of winter, the news reports about people having such difficulty walking seemed inexplicable.

It was reminiscent of Texas when there would be a series of car accidents every time they get a little rain. Having grown up in this country, it was hard to understand why there were so many accidents. Unlike here, however, they do not get much rain there so a fine layer of dust forms on the roads. Then after some light rain the road developed a fine film of mud, which can be as dangerous as black ice, if drivers try to corner or stop too fast.

It was not that people in Dublin were just not used to the cold conditions. Unlike Canada or the USA, little or no effort was made to clear the footpaths. They were lethal, with hard-packed snow and a layer of ice on top. Everybody was slipping and some people were falling.

In other countries they clear the snow before it is allowed to build up on the footpaths. We certainly don’t need a whole level of permanent snow clearers, but there is no shortage of people looking for work, and employing young people to clear the streets would be preferable to paying them for doing nothing on the dole.

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