Saturday 22 October 2016

I'd like to clear my name too

Published 19/07/2015 | 02:30

Brendan O'Connor
Brendan O'Connor

It's fair to say everyone now agrees that we all deserve a banking inquiry in our lives.

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We all deserve an opportunity to be savaged by a few sheep in public and the opportunity to make a long opening statement full of fake modesty and bogus contrition (that we will then not leak to the papers the Sunday before we appear, because that would be illegal).

It's typical though, isn't it? It's one law for the fat cats and the insiders, and another for the rest of us. We have to pay the price for them to all clear their names, but we don't get to clear ours at all.

I believe that public unrest about this may grow to the point where the Government, if it wants to win the election in November, will have to promise to keep the Banking Inquiry running indefinitely and to invite everyone to come in and unburden themselves and clear their names.

Or perhaps they could use it as an incentive for people to pay their water bills. One hour being inquired into for everyone who pays their water charges, on top of the free money they are already offering.

It would have taken a heart of stone to watch Bertie and Cowen and the bankers sit there for their "grilling" and not be moved. Moved to think that you wouldn't mind a bit of that yourself.

We all feel that our reputations could do with a bit of burnishing, and who better to set the record straight and write the first draft of history than yourself? It's kind of like that TV or newspaper conceit where a person gets to write their own obituary. Or the job interview where you admit that your biggest fault is you're a perfectionist.

We'd all like to go in and tell the nation that anything we ever did we did it with people's best interests at heart. And if we did anything wrong, we obviously apologise for it - but in reality it was everyone's fault but ours. If we were guilty of anything, it is that we are too nice for our own good and our kindness is our weakness.

It is right and proper too that the Banking Inquiry should continue for ever. It is just the latest version of an ancient Irish tradition called confession, where people rock up and admit to a few minor sins in return for forgiveness for all their major sins. And out you come, absolved.

Examinership is another version. People hear that businesses have gone into examinership and they feel sympathy, but the truth is business owners are usually rubbing their hands in glee, thrilled to have "protection from their creditors". It means all the angry people have to back off - because the court says so.

The Banking Inquiry is similar. All the angry people who might have questions for Cowen and McCreevy and the bankers have to back off, because the lads are saving it all up for the Banking Inquiry.

They spit it out there and come out the other end of the car wash, clean as a whistle and absolved of all the sins they didn't commit.

Sunday Independent

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