Friday 30 September 2016

Elites continue to hold sway and force the rest of us to pay

Published 29/11/2015 | 02:30

COLLAPSE: It’s no surprise the Banking Inquiry, chaired by Deputy Ciaran Lynch, is on the brink
COLLAPSE: It’s no surprise the Banking Inquiry, chaired by Deputy Ciaran Lynch, is on the brink

It is seven years to the month since the shocking spending scandal was revealed at then State training agency FAS. An orgy of feather-bedding and outrageous high living on taxpayer-funded credit cards was revealed by Sunday Independent journalist Nick Webb and columnist Shane Ross, now a TD.

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Since then, little has changed in many other parts of our economy, even though we have had a financial meltdown that was one of the largest ever, relative to the country's size.

It has been followed by some signs of a recovery, although many ordinary people are yet to feel the financial benefits of this.

The FAS scandal showed how an insider elite showered luxuries on itself, also extending its largesse to a select few politicians.

The because-we-are-worth-it mentality of a cabal of elites is still alive and well in this country.

Who runs Ireland? A bunch of TD teachers on behalf of bankers, lawyers and a top layer of public servants.

Bankers, and their accountancy and legal advisers, messed up spectacularly, allowed to do this by politicians, regulators and senior public servants. Few bankers paid any price for their malfeasance.

The mess was cleaned up by a raid on the incomes of the ordinary people of Ireland. Tax, charges and levies have been used to rescue the State, as the bill was handed to us mugs.

Always remember one thing about this country ­­- the elites conspire to insulate themselves, no matter what the cost is to the rest of us.

In this context, it should come as no surprise that the Banking Inquiry, chaired by Ciaran Lynch, is teetering on the brink of collapse, and if it does produce a final report it is unlikely to contain any meaningful insights. We already know it is precluded from naming names. And lawyers have managed to stymie attempts at reform as the new Legal Services Regulation Bill set to do nothing to reduce legal costs, which are among the highest in the world. This is nothing short of a heist on the rest of us.

Last week, the Government introduced a bill to lift the pay freeze imposed on public servants, including those of TDs. The people who will benefit most are high- income public sector workers earning over €70,000 a year.

It emerged last week that 30 staff in the Central Bank are receiving secret bonus/retention payments. This, despite the fact we are paying for the failure of previous regulatory regimes in countless ways, including the Quinn levy on insurance policies and spiralling motor premiums, never mind the banking mess.

And bankers continue to defy the Government by refusing to cut variable mortgage rates in any meaningful way. No wonder the good life never went away for a select few.

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