Extract from a blogpost earlier this week – who would have thought that all three distractions would happily occur today
I stand to be corrected on this but the last politically-connected arrest in the State was on 9th December 2011 when former Anglo chairman, Sean Fitzpatrick was re-arrested. By “politically-connected”, I mean Anglo is 100% owned by the State and its activities which led to a €29bn bailout from the State, certainly give the State a particular involvement with the bank. The previous politically-connected arrest was on 1st November 2011 when former Anglo finance director, Willie McAteer was re-arrested. That was on the eve of the controversial payment of USD 1bn (€730m) to unsecured, unguaranteed bondholders. Back in 2010, there were remarks at how convenient it was that Sean Fitzpatrick was arrested on 18th March, during then-Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s trip to Washington for St Patrick’s Day where it was coincidentally helpful to be able to show that Ireland was being tough in investigating its disastrous banking collapse. It’s not as if there are politically-connected arrests every week or month in Ireland, so there might be eyebrows raised today at the arrest of former Fianna Fail TD, and subsequently senator, Ivor Callely in connection with claims for mobile phone expenses whilst he was in office. I think it fair to say the public did not appreciate reports of the senator’s expenses in 2010 and his fighting his disciplinary hearing at the Oireachtas. So politically-connected and involving a member of the Opposition, and dare I say popular – killing three birds with the one stone, wags might suggest this evening over a pint.
Promissory notes were also firmly back in the spotlight earlier today when An Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dail that not only were there ongoing technical discussions but it had been the initiative of the Troika to draft a joint set of proposals on dealing with IBRC’s (IBRC is the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation and is the merged entity representing what was Anglo and Irish Nationwide Building Society) €30bn-odd of promissory notes. This proactivity on the part of the Troika is curious because when asked about the promissory notes at the press conference inDublinlast week, the IMF said the Government had merely “requested discussions”. Also it seems obvious that nothing tangible arose yesterday in the meeting between Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan and ECB president Mario Draghi, otherwise Minister Noonan would be broadcasting it from the rooftops.
And as for bread and circuses, this afternoon the embattled – following a farcical stymieing of the commercial property market in 2011 and defeat of a poorly drafted referendum proposal – Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter published the draft heads of a new bill aimed at “addressing the financial difficulties of general insolvency; mortgage debt and negative equity” The heads of the bill are here and the ministerial press release is here. The heads are 164 pages long and are still being studied, but it is difficult to avoid the perception at present that the bill offers “debt relief for all”.
And lastly, we had a couple of political interventions today criticising opposition to paying the Anglo bond. Junior minister at the Department of Finance, Brian Hayes accused critics of living in “la-la land” and indeed he managed to resurrect the j’accuse of the last Government of saying critics whose opposed Government strategy were “talking down Ireland” An Taoiseach told the Dail that “to say you don’t pay is nonsensical” This comes on the back of transport minister Leo Varadkar accusing critics of being “misinformed or mischievous” though there is some evidence that the minister himself is “misinformed”. As for “mischievous”, that would be a scurrilous suggestion to level at the Minister. And no doubt it is no more than happy coincidence that the above took place on the same day that insolventIreland paid €1,250m (1% of GNP) to bondholders in a defunct bank.
I leave you with a view of what IBRC’s debts are doing to Ireland.
(Graphic above produced by Japlandic.com, contact here)