News Editorial

Saturday 22 October 2016

Our national interests can't be compromised

Published 01/07/2016 | 02:30

Vote Leave campaign leader, Boris Johnson, reacts as he delivers a speech in London Picture: REUTERS/Toby Melville
Vote Leave campaign leader, Boris Johnson, reacts as he delivers a speech in London Picture: REUTERS/Toby Melville

IT was another extraordinary day in British politics yesterday, not least because for the first time in recent memory a leader was stabbed in the front, by a rival. Michael Gove's shafting of Boris Johnson has added to the consternation caused by the Brexit. There are hardly enough baskets for the number of political heads rolling around the corridors of Westminster.

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A full week since this country awoke to the news that Britain had voted to leave the EU, the leadership vacuum has grown. There is still no clear blueprint on how to proceed.

There is no end to the upheaval across the water - or the inertia in Brussels - as hapless leaders grapple to come up with some kind of contingency plans.

It has often been said that there is only one kind of shock which is worse than the totally unexpected, and that is the expected for which one has refused to prepare. Failing to prepare is something this country can scarcely afford.

Writing in these pages today, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin points out that, "while we can't decide what happens in London we can at least get on with implementing the urgent and comprehensive strategy required to protect Ireland's interests".

We have been exposed to a scale of economic, social and political threat which is unprecedented. For this reason it is absolutely critical that there is the utmost cooperation and consultation between political parties.

The fact that this is the most precariously balanced Government in terms of numbers we have seen, makes this even more critical.

Nothing is more frightening then a fear you cannot name. Yes we are facing unknown challenges, but we have as much to gain as to lose in how we manage relationships.

That is why a determined focus on fighting for our national interests cannot be compromised by any party or interest group aiming to profit in pursuit of narrow political gains.

Brazen banks must be kept on a tighter leash

Somebody wise once pointed out that the difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a “strong will”, and the other from a “strong won’t”.

In the treatment of mortgage holders by some banks, the “strong won’t” seems to hold sway.

Yes we have watchdogs in the form of an Ombudsman, and the Central Bank which is also there as a custodian of the public interest; and yet, warnings and directives can be issued carrying the full authority of their offices, and they can be defied; and the customer loses out once more along the way.

What is the point of it all if rules can be ignored at the expense of the customer?

The question arises because highly desirable tracker mortgages were taken back by the banks.

The banks later accepted that this was wrong. Nonetheless, in some cases they have refused to return the favourable rate to borrowers.

The Central Bank was unequivocal in its order to restore the arrangement to those who should not have lost them.

An estimated 10,000 customers may have been hit. It is nothing short of remarkable that the banks could be so brazen in their defiance of a clear instruction.

But it is equally surprising that the Central Bank or the Ombudsman for Financial Services have not intervened.

Irish Independent

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