Sunday 23 July 2017

Handshakes, smiles as lawyers greet Seanie

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

SEAN FitzPatrick strode into the Barristers' Tea Rooms to a hero's welcome. There, eminent lawyers gathered in the law library restaurant shook the disgraced banker's hand and joined him for mid-morning tea.

Laughter rang around the Tea Rooms as FitzPatrick held court. The former CEO and chairman of Anglo Irish Bank had plenty, it seemed, to laugh about. He stole a march on the photographers and television camera crews who missed his entry into the Four Courts, despite being camped out since early morning.

The Courts Service spends millions a year on perimeter security to ensure that only card-carrying legal officials including judges, barristers, solicitors and court staff can gain entry to the Four Courts through private entrances.

All other mere mortals including cash strapped debtors and homeowners facing repossession proceedings must file, under the glare of camera lenses, through the public entrance.

Not Seanie, who also stole a Pyrrhic victory over his tormentors and former employers, Anglo. It's all about optics, you see.

When Anglo, which holds the lion's share of Seanie's eye-watering debt, refused to approve a scheme of arrangement which Seanie claimed would leave everyone including Anglo better off the refusal was widely interpreted -- if refuted by Anglo and the State -- to be a proxy message from the Government that it would deal tough with Ireland's banking elite.

The public didn't fall for it and neither did Seanie's non-Anglo creditors who felt that they would have been better off with Seanie's deal which, the man himself argued, would bring them a better dividend.

So yesterday the remaining creditors, who had 12 votes compared to Anglo's two when it came to choosing who should carve up his estate, refused to back Anglo's choice of a trustee.

This tickled Seanie pink.

Misery

Shortly before the clock struck noon, Seanie rose, bade his goodbyes and tried to plan his great escape.

A pack of hacks were patiently waiting outside, wanting a wee word with the man.

But FitzPatrick fled towards an out-of-bounds stairway.

Did it lead to the toilets or did it lead to one of the underground corridors linking the Four Courts with the cells of the Bridewell? After a few minutes Seanie reappeared and like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the children of Anglo followed him as he led a merry march through the Four Courts.

Then Seanie put us out of our misery, walking purposefully towards the judges' gate. The lens men smiled, relieved. But alas, another twist as Seanie veered right towards the Supreme Court, hacks trailing in his wake.

The phones went again: the target was heading towards the public exit he didn't come in, crews were at the ready.

But in a final agonising turn, Seanie headed towards the back gate. He had come full circle, but he could not avoid coming face to face with the Fourth Estate. And just like in the movies, a big Jaguar appeared out of nowhere and whisked the 'hero' away.

Irish Independent

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