Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bank Enquiry Fluff

Justice must be done, and must be seen to be done. We the People are expected to accept - in good faith - the word of the Government, accept paycuts, levees, cutbacks and increased direct and indirect taxes to bail out bankers and developers who paid a lower rates than mid level earners at the height of the boom.
Thats all well and good - until the media (finally) start to ask questions.
Then answers are refused under the so-called freedom of information act.

A private enquiry is of no use, a tribunal is too expensive, what we need, and what we deserve is a DIRT style enquiry now. And dont think for a minute that it will be any different under FG
There are too many of them involved in speculation and land deals to be any less wary.
How much more of this do we have to put up with - seriously FF/FG are two cheeks of the one arse, and we need a change.
Voting for FG to replace FF is like turkeys voting for Christmas - it is not in our best interests.

One poster at boards found many Fine Gael politicians engaged in significant property development and the usual dynastic traits.
Sean Barrett FG - investigated by the Mahon Tribunal - with a portfolio of interests is registered in Jersey
Frank Feighan FG has properties in France, Bulgaria and dotted around Ireland.
Deirdre Clune FG - succeeded her father Peter Barry and Grandfather Anthony Barry as TD
Simon Coveney FG - succeeded his father Hugh Coveney as TD
Michael Creed FG - succeeded his father Donal Creed as TD

Now we learn that Herr Klaus Regling, a former IMF economist, has been appointed to investigate the crisis.
Mr Regling will publish a report on the crisis in tandem with Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan.
Lets not forget that Mr. Honohan's central bank, with lack of oversight and regulation allowed us to sleepwalk into the current crisis, and people involved in the investigation may not want all details to come out.

The two preliminary inquiries are due to be completed by the end of May,
Neither report will be subject to a public hearing.

Already Herr Regling has said this timeframe is not likley without a 2nd assistant.

Only after the initial investigation will a Commission be established and asked to report by the end of the year.

Its terms of reference will be set by the Oireachtas but its proceedings will be conducted in private - which regardless of what Mr. Gormley says, is secret.
Yes, if we are to have an enquiry there must be terms of reference, but will this be a drawn out investigation to see FF - and other partys - through to the other side of a General Election?

A cause for concern is that people from inside a bureaucracy often do not ask the right questions, as the UK Iraq War inquiry is showing. Focus on procedure can stop questions on how decisions were actually made, and who made them.

This might also repeat the mantra that there is no alternative to NAMA, and a drawn out investigation into the past avoids debate into NAMA alternatives and how to deal with the future
I do not doubt Herr Regling's integrity but we need someone, outside the system, with a focus on dealing with corruption, not mechanism.

I would also like to see full and frank disclosure of Herr Reglings financial interest in Ireland in relation to his work managing funds.

And we need someone with no vested interests in the Irish financial or political systems - like Herr Regling and Mr Honohan

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Irish Bank Enquiry

As readers well know, Ireland is a small country.
As readers will know, and as I have written about here, we have a political and business caste, with dynastic politics.

We need a full, public and open investigation into the banking crisis.
It was this crisis that has created NAMA and put our National Debt at levels that are almost incomprehensible.

It also needs to be set up in a way that does not allow political interests to be catered to, and it must be limited in terms of time and cost - not to be milked by the legal eagles as the Tribunals have been.

Iceland has taken steps towards this with the appointment of Eva Joly, a Norwegian born French judge with an outstanding history investigating corruption by politicians and vested business interests.
Her work investigating corruption is impressive, taking on, among others, former minister Bernard Tapie and the bank Crédit Lyonnais.

Her most famous case was that of France’s leading oil company – Elf Aquitaine. Despite death threats, she carried on the case to uncover several cases of fraud.

With that CV she seems ideally suited to investigatig the banks scandal.
We have seen the results of the Tribunals arranged by the Irish Government, little truth, little accountability, few prosecutions and all of this done in a protracted and costly manner.

Our systems are not working, so it is time to take a fresh approach - but will any Government have the courage of their convictions to actually really try to find the truth?
Props to, which details her work in Iceland well

A fuller profile can be seen at

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Heres to You Mrs Robinson

Regardless of what a relief it is to see a headline with teenage boy and sex in it without mention of a Bishop or Priest, the recent events in Northern Ireland are making waves in the press for all the wrong reasons.

Yes, Iris Robinson had at least one affair, which was hypocritical considering her public pronouncements that that "the government has the responsibility to uphold God's laws"

Yes, the use of political influence to help a lover was not the most astute thing to do for a politician

And Yes, acting in the capacity of a lobbyist/consultant and alledgedly accepting the sum of 5,000 without declaring it was wrong.

But these are human failings, greed and lust.
The sum - IF the allegation is true, is petty in comparison with the corruption of the Republics politicians, or Britains MP expenses.
Politics aside, it has tragicly resulted in her attempting to take her own life, and one hopes she and her family can come to terms with what is an essentialy private matter.

In fairness, a cafe owner out of his depth in a field of international political intrgue sounds more like an episode of Ello Ello

What is worst is that these relativly minor transgressions have threatend the Peace process.
At a time when the declicate issue of transfer of power in relation to policing from London to Belast is at issue, one has to ask who leaked the story and why?
Within the DUP - as in Republican circles - there is a break, those who want to move forward, and those who wish to remain in the past

There is another factor that has been overlooked in the salacious gossip.
It is apparent is that the current system engrains a sectarian, tribal, apartheid system.

Martin McGuinness is the Deputy Leader in a powersharing agreement, however - leadership has not been transferred to the Deputy but to a minor Minister, Arlene Foster, chosen for her loyalism (if you pardon the pun) to the leader of the DUP.

It is also tragic that what I would consider an actual threat to the peace process, the horrific bomb attack on police officer Peadar Heffron which has left him in a critical condition.

This was not a target of opportunity, this was carefully planned. Heffron is Catholic, a fluent Irish language speaker and a GAA Player.

He represents a positive, inclusive future for Northern Ireland.

This as opposed to the usual nepotism and tribalism of politics. In April 2009, both Iris and Peter Robinson came under fire after Commons MPs' expenses accounts were leaked to the press. The couple were branded "swish family Robinson" after claims that they were receiving £571,939.41 a year in various salaries and expenses, with a further £150,000 in salaries being paid to four of the couple's family members.
They seem to have combined the republics nepotism with the UK's expenses culture.

With this in mind - why is it that the politicians still insist on segragation, where only one of the Northern Groups can hold the position of leadership - and the sad thing is that if it were a UUP/SDLP coalition, one doubts very much the 6 week arangement would be any different.

Can they not move on, past the tribalism and the quagmire of the past and sort out more pressing issues, policing and the economy are two that spring to mind.
With all the good will in the world, from the EU, Britain Ireland and the US - this can achieve nothing if the leaders cannot move on from the past.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 and into the future

And so, we start afresh, its a new year with new chalenges. All the best to all readers in MMX and I hope all of us have a happy and productive, progressive year.

We are facing an uncertain political future on the Island, and while Iceland have implimented their version of a national recovery plan, with safeguards and support for citizens, we have yet to do that.

I hope this situation may be recovered, but it does not look good.

As a political blog, one must comment on the recent sad news of Minister Lenihans Pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

My sincere sympathy does go out to Brian Lenihan, and I found the manner in which Irelands TV3 broke the news was distasteful - the news of his illness would have been better as a press release.
Whatever I may have written about Mr Lenihan - or other TD's - in this blog must be seen not as personal anomosity but as observational critcism.

The fact is the survival rate for pancreatic cancer sufferers is low, but hopefully it was caught early and he can undergo surgery and chemo.
Someone facing such a serious illness should - at a time like this - ask to be relieved of his duties, if even only on a temporary basis.
Minister Lenihan and Minister Martin have both been named as likley successors to Brian Cowen in a future FF power struggle. Indeed, one feels the Lenihan dynasty felt it was Brians destiny to lead the troops of FF.
In light of the recent diagnosis it gives an only too human face to political observations.

It is both sad on a human level and a cause of anxiety at a national level that after FF drove through the NAMA legislation the person charged with implimentation is now very seriously ill.
TV3's sugarcoating of the NAMA legislation was also unwelcome as they reviewed the ministers career - to date one hopes
- but just because someone is gravley ill does not suddenly mean that their decisions in the past cannot be questioned.

We as a people have a right, and an obligation as citizens to continue to question, and demand, real political action on the issues that matter to us.

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