Friday 19 December 2014

Our directors go native at lenders

Published 21/12/2012 | 05:00

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

No observer of the Oireachtas Finance Committee's two-day grilling of 'public interest' directors in the banks will have missed the tendency of most of the state-appointed board members to identify with the institutions whose boards they sit on.

The hearings show, beyond doubt, that state-appointed directors have gone native at the banks they were sent in to oversee.

We should have guessed as much. The directors have been invisible for four years.

That was the period when the flow of credit was slashed and borrowers were stretched to breaking point but lavish pay and pensions went unchallenged at all of the rescued lenders.

Just in case it wasn't already clear, the "we at the bank" language of former political heavyweights Ray MacSharry, Dick Spring and Joe Walsh made it explicit.

In some ways, that is just human nature – some of the directors have now been in situ for four years.

It would take extraordinary willpower not to identify with any institution after that amount of time, especially when the directors have never before been asked to account for their work, either publicly or privately.

Understandable isn't the same as acceptable though, and The Punt suspects that the postscript to committee hearings will include a suggestion that the entire scheme be scrapped.

Irish Independent

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