Thursday 23 February 2017

Awestruck despair over €90bn cost to fix banks

Instead of a resolution day to move on from the financial collapse, the full horrors were revealed to us, says Alan Ruddock

TUESDAY was billed as resolution day, the moment when we would know the cost of our banking collapse, draw a line and move resolutely on. Grim-faced, certainly, but with a sense that the worst had passed. But it was far, far worse than that: instead of a tidying-up exercise, Tuesday was an exercise in awestruck despair.

First came Kieran Mulvey, the chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission, announcing a "revolutionary deal" between the Government and the leaders of the public-sector trade unions. Then came news that Matthew Elderfield, the Financial Regulator, had asked the High Court to appoint provisional administrators to Quinn Insurance, and finally came Finance Minister Brian Lenihan to tell us that Anglo Irish Bank was going to need another €18bn to stay alive, and even more if it were to close.

The financial black hole created by Sean FitzPatrick, Eugene Sheehy and Michael Fingleton -- the men who led Anglo, AIB and Irish Nationwide into an orgy of excess, followed by bare-faced denial -- would cost about €90bn of our money, split almost evenly between the cost of recapitalising the banking system and funding the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

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