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Archive for February 5th, 2012

During the week, there was an unseemly tiff in the Dail between Enda Kenny and Gerry Adams, with the latter accusing the former of “acting the eejit” on the world stage, gambolling with Nicolas Sarkozy whilst supposed to be discussing the serious matter of over 20m unemployed in Europe; and Enda retaliated by describing some of Gerry’s acquaintances as “buddy buddy creatures”. Unseemly.

I well remember one of Gerry’s “buddy buddy creatures”, Bill Clinton, former US president and a great friend to this country, playing around – pictures here – with Palestinian president, Yassir Arafat and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak at Camp David in the US in 2000. And although 20m unemployed inEurope today is a very serious matter, so also is the life-and-death struggle in Israel/Palestine. Leaders try to engage on a personal level because it might make negotiations and communication easier, with parties better able to understand the other viewpoint, even if that looks like “acting the eejit”. And after Enda’s “Gallic spat” – “grandstanding” according to Channel 4 correspondent Faisal Islam – with Nicolas last March 2011 which cost this country at least €10m in interest payments because Greece got an interest rate reduction in March 2011, and Ireland had to wait until July 2011, you can’t really blame Enda for trying to mend bridges.

But what about Enda’s own “buddy-buddy creatures”? The Independent reports today that a director of US financial outfit Blackstone, Gerry Murphy, is being considered to head up a new NAMA advisory group – announced by Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan on 6th December 2011 following the review of NAMA by Michael Geoghegan. Now Blackstone is a controversial company as far as Ireland is concerned. Cast your minds back to December 2010, when Blackstone’s CEO and co-founder, Steve Schwarzman talked candidly about investment opportunities in Europe – “we’re basically waiting to see how beaten up people’s psyches get”, “you want to wait until there’s really blood in the streets” and Steve said he was on the look-out for deals where you can double your money within a few months. According the Enda Kenny’s diary, reported by the Independent today, An Taoiseach met with Steve Schwarzman in 2011. The purpose and content of the meeting isn’t disclosed but it is understood that Blackstone is a potential buyer of assets from NAMA. In early 2011, Fine Gael was also talking about farming-out NAMA’s asset management operations to 3-4 companies.

The implicit taunt in Enda’s quip at Gerry during the week was that over the three decades of violence and controlled civil war in Northern Ireland, Gerry was in contact with people who were involved in violence. But is Enda and his party now cozying up to a “buddy-buddy creature” who is awaiting “blood on the streets”?

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