Thursday 27 October 2016

We're no longer shocked, but still a little shaken by bailout night of chaos

Published 07/05/2015 | 02:30

Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher
Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher

'Shocked and shaken' were the words used by Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher to describe the lack of information on Irish Nationwide's liquidity position just a few weeks before the bank guarantee was introduced on September 29, 2008.

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Giving new evidence yesterday, Mr Boucher revealed that he attended meetings at the request of the Central Bank regulator to discuss support for Nationwide when the lender needed €4bn, but Mr Boucher and other executives refused to support it.

In fact, he had met the Nationwide founder Michael Fingleton back in 2006 when he was asked to look at the building society, although he did not see it as a suitable investment then either.

Mr Boucher also contradicted the earlier testimony of former AIB chairman Dermot Gleeson that he believed a four-bank guarantee had been agreed on before he left Government Buildings that night.

This four-bank guarantee would have excluded Anglo and Nationwide.

Bank of Ireland's ex-chief executive Brian Goggin's recall of that night was also in direct contrast to that of AIB, when he said there was "no ambiguity" at the end of the discussions that a six-bank guarantee was on the cards.

Mr Boucher also said that he did not believe subordinated debt should have been covered by the guarantee, despite a request to do so by Mr Goggin.

Frustrating an event as the inquiry can be at times, we are now getting a clearer picture of what happened on the night of the bank guarantee.

And while many questions still remain, it seems decisions about Ireland's banking sector which culminated in the €64bn bailout were made by a handful of politicians and senior advisers in Government Buildings.

What is also becoming more apparent is that it was a night of chaos, with the different versions of events that are emerging just adding to the sense of pandemonium.

And the lack of a paper trail makes all the madness even more hard to grasp - remember, not a scrap of paper remains from the night.

Mr Boucher said yesterday he was "in the dugout and not on the pitch" on the night - he was at Bank of Ireland headquarters taking calls from Mr Goggin.

In the absence of the late Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, the spotlight will next turn on key players such as former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, ex-department secretary Kevin Cardiff and the former secretary general Paul Gallagher when they give evidence later this summer.

No longer shocked, but still a little shaken, we the taxpayers deserve to know.

Irish Independent

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