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Anglo tapes no laughing matter

A few nights before the first of the Anglo Irish Bank tapes was played, I watched an episode of Fr Ted that made me laugh.

When Ted tells a visiting American priest that he raised a hundred pounds in a parish raffle, Fr Buzz scoffs and says “Do you know what we do with a hundred dollar bill back in my parish? We wipe our ass with it”.

I wasn’t laughing when I heard the Anglo tapes. The bank put the fictional Fr Buzz completely in the shade: It wiped its metaphorical ass with our entire economy and national sovereignty and calmly flushed our futures down the toilet.

And then they gloated in private about how they’d seemingly gotten away with it. How pathetic are these real-life jokers who coldly and arrogantly chatted about how their dysfunctional bank could survive and muddle through, despite all its rottenness. Their toxic outfit continued to exist as a kind of zombie un-dead creature, lumbering grotesquely across the financial landscape, clinging to its half life while so many innocent victims of its reckless behaviour reeled under its impact.

Anyone waiting to see those responsible for the banking collapse change into prison clothes will have a long wait. It will be a while, I suspect, before any of the people who crushed the hopes and dreams of so many people will be rubbing shoulders with shoplifters or people who didn’t pay their TV licences.

A no-holds barred inquiry into this stomach-churning scandal is urgently required. In the meantime, we have to cope with the breathtaking chatter of the boys who brought a nation to its knees.

If ever there was a sick joke it has to be the true life drama unveiled by the tapes. How far from funny or amusing is the sight of people queuing at airports or harbours to emigrate, or joining the lengthy dole queues? Not very funny, either, is the spectre of families struggling to survive on ravaged incomes, failing to keep up with mortgage payments, or facing possible eviction from their homes.

Wouldn’t you like to take those jesting highfliers, like the ghost of Scrooge, to stand awhile with the men and women waiting their turns outside the Capuchin Centre in Dublin to collect food parcels? Or inside the homes of carers who continue to look after seriously ill or disabled loved ones despite savage cutbacks?

Ireland will hopefully recover from the effects of the banking collapse and the bailout that followed, but justice for both the perpetrators and victims of that crime against the Irish people is a long way off.

And that’s no laughing matter.

John Fitzgerald


Co Kilkenny


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