Merkel could put some bite into Kenny’s Anglo bark

THOUGH singing Deutschland über Alles was a nice touch, it would be far more helpful if our notorious political/financial/useless class actually started speaking German full time.

By far the most effective commentary on the whole squalid Anglo saga has not emerged in the Dáil, but rather Berlin.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny used the revelations to take another swipe at the last Fianna Fiasco government and attempted to twist the situation into a crude, self-serving political narrative.

Remarkably, it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, usually portrayed as the detached ice-woman of European politics, who best summed up the feelings of ordinary Irish people when hearing the awful Anglo audio.

“I have nothing but contempt for this. The tone seems to be similar across all banks. It is a real damage to democracy...for everything we work for. It is for us a huge challenge to convince people who get up every day and every day do their work and always pay their taxes, do everything, even show solidarity with other people who are weaker. All of this is destroyed by that and so I have nothing but contempt for that,” she said.

Back here, while Mr Kenny failed to strike the right tone, Labour’s Joan Burton over-stretched herself linguistically with references to the “Vampire Tapes”.

While the idea of Coalition spin-off mini-series: Joanie: The Vampire Slayer does have a certain appeal, again Ms Burton’s intervention was used as an opportunity to score easy points from over-familiar Fianna Fáil failures rather than contextualise how we move forward from this.

Over in Germany, a much more hands-on solution was being urged with the usually dryly conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung enraged and declaring members of the last Irish Government should be beaten with a stick until it becomes unbearable:

“Take a bag and put this in it: the management of the former Anglo Irish Bank, and those employees who appear in the newly published audiotapes and behave like arrogant brats. Officials in the then Dublin Government, regulators and the Central Bank who have been watching the goings on for far too long — regardless of whether they did not see, or could not see, the debacle. The authorities in European institutions, who watched passively as the Irish State allowed its banks to rise and then allowed the European Central Bank to act in a way that is more than just bordering on monetary financing. When the bag is filled with these people, take a stick and beat until the wailing is unbearable,” the newspaper thundered.

Note: Under this intriguing plan the beating would not stop when the pain becomes unbearable for those in the sack being hit by the stick, but rather when it becomes too much for those listening to the screams.

One suspects it could be rather a long time before taxpayers found the shrieks of the last Cabinet and their buddies, the Anglo boys, “unbearable”.

And the stick-sack approach would certainly do the job a lot more satisfactorily than an Oireachtas inquiry unable by law to come to adverse findings against anybody.

And that, of course, is the fault of the voters who rejected the 2011 referendum that would have restored to the Dáil the investigative powers normal in the US Congress and Westminster.

An over-arrogant Alan Shatter lost control of that campaign and allowed it to be hijacked by the same don’t-give-the-Dáil-more-power brigade who are now lining up against Seanad abolition.

The upshot is an Oireachtas inquiry would be pretty much useless — able to describe events, but not able to apportion blame.

Even the power to discover documents must be open to question as Mr Kenny continually points out how curious it was that his disaster-monger predecessor Brian Cowen did not leave any paper trail in the Taoiseach’s office regarding the night of the Anglo bank guarantee.

The referendum was rejected because the idea of politicians sitting in judgement on party rivals did not gel well with the notion of natural justice.

While Fianna Fáil has been as slippery as a wet fish, gasping for air as it flails around on a slab, desperately attempting to dodge the jagged blade about to slice into it from any impending probe, Micheál Martin should get what he publicly wishes for — a judicial inquiry headed by an international figure.

After a great deal of shifting positions, Mr Martin suddenly backed such an inquiry and we should be delighted at his remarkable conversion to transparency as he was a leading member of the Cabinet that set up two highly secretive banking probes that were expressly forbidden from examining the key moment of the financial collapse — the bank guarantee.

Mr Kenny has let this matter drift for more than two years, and has now only been spurred into belated action by the tapes. It would have been far better to have set-up an investigation along the lines of the short, sharp Leveson probe into the British press, that could deliver an authoritative overview of what happened; name the guilty parties; and remain above the taint of party political bias.

This is still the best option, but talk of a re-run of the Oireachtas inquiries referendum is dragging out the delay further.

Fianna Fáil’s rambunctious Niall Collins branded Mr Kenny a “thug” and “boot boy” — quite a compliment from what was once the most ruthless political machine in Western Europe — for the Taoiseach’s attacks on FF and their “axis of collusion” with Anglo.

But it is yet another FF axis of delusion to level such over-the-top charges against mild mannered Mr Kenny, as the Taoiseach has displayed he has very little kick for a supposed boot boy on the Anglo inquiry situation.

Indeed, it has been a very bad week for the Taoiseach all round as he has seen his economic strategy swept off course by a return to recession, and even the “eternal” flame he helped light in memory of JFK went out shortly afterwards.

Maybe Mr Kenny could get back on track by asking Angela to lend him a stick and a sack to finally get the Anglo action rolling.

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