Thursday 23 February 2017

Privatisation escapades show capitalism's quirky side

Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy


IN retrospect, the privatisation of Eircom was one of the high points of the early Celtic Tiger years.

After the last few years of grim austerity, it is difficult to conjure up the innocent enthusiasm of the late 1990s when we waltzed happily into the eurozone and bought shares in what was then known as Telecom Eireann but later renamed Eircom so American investors would not think the phone company had anything to do with Iran.

There was a sort of collective delusion on both counts that led to disillusion. The really strange thing was that so many of us, around 400,000, bought shares in a company we knew to be incompetent. Back then there was only one fixed line company – everybody was a customer of Telecom Eireann so we all knew it took weeks to install or repair a simple phone while the operators invariably connected you to the wrong number and charged you a fortune.

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