1 October 2008
It is now time for a state bank to be established.
The state should have 50 per cent of places on the board of all the banks and financial institutions that may avail of the massive public bail-out.
All bank CEOs should be removed from office, without severance pay.
While the Government is preparing to slash and burn public services, money can be found to bail out the bankers to the potential tune of €400 billion, on top of a national debt of €45 billion. This Government’s panic action in guaranteeing the borrowings of the banks is designed to save the banking interests from themselves, with a cavalier disregard for the interests of the Irish people.
For pumping up property prices, enriching property speculators and themselves at the expense of those who are struggling to pay mortgages, and possibly losing their homes, there is no punishment.
The bankers and property speculators who frequented the tent at Galway Races clearly made a good investment when they gave money to Fianna Fáil.
The economic experts who are now panicking are the ones who assured us for years that there was no problem, that the “Celtic Tiger” was healthy and the banking system was sound.
The “experts” are not experts after all. The economic gurus in the Department of Finance, and leading spokespersons for investment and banking houses, have for decades been telling working people how things have to be done. “There is no alternative,” they loudly proclaimed to working people, always asserting that Irish banks were financially sound, that there were no problems with their lending strategies, that they were well capitalised to meet any troubled waters, that high bonuses to senior bankers and financial speculators were justified, and that big dividends to shareholders were a must.
Now, when things go belly-up, the Government moves to shore them up, to protect the shareholders and the big speculators while ignoring the plight of the growing mass of unemployed and people struggling to pay their mortgages.
We have a Central Bank whose primary role appears to be to support the banks and not the public interest, and a toothless Financial Regulator who is funded by the banks themselves—a regulator who never expressed concern or challenged any decision made by bankers since the office was established.
This is a blank cheque for those speculators whose greed and failed investment decisions have caused the problem. Why should Irish taxpayers bail out property speculators and incompetent bankers?
Not one leading banker has lost their job. There have been no cuts in the exorbitant salaries paid to bankers, no new regulations introduced, and no Government seats on the board of any of these institutions. They have placed the terms and conditions of supervision in the hands of an already failed “watchdog,” the Central Bank, under whose watch these bad practices flourished.
The state has a responsibility to enforce a more stable control of capital and to establish sustainable investment priorities. The action of this Government is to put another couple of storeys onto the house of cards.