Tuesday 24 October 2017

Anglo: Joan Burton gets fangs into FF over the 'Vampire Tapes'

Lise Hand

Lise Hand

A TRIO of the Dail's feistier women was distinctly unimpressed by the sulphurous fug of machismo emanating from the Anglo Tapes. Joan, Mary Lou and Clare most certainly do not love the smell of testosterone in the morning.

With the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste locked in smoke-free rooms in Brussels hammering out an 11th-hour deal on the EU budget yesterday, it was Joan Burton's turn in the Leaders' Questions hot-spot where inevitably the topics ranged from A (Anglo) to B (Banking).

Unsurprisingly, Fianna Fail's Billy Kelleher was not keen on revisiting the sorry period of history unearthed in the Anglo Tapes, and instead castigated the Social Protection Minister over the new code of conduct on mortgage arrears.

"It leaves families all over this country who are currently in arrears in huge difficulty," he charged.

But Joan was eager to direct everyone's attention back to the Anglo Era first. "As we listen to the Anglo Tapes, they sound more and more like the Vampire Tapes. I am not going to go into all of the history of the deputy's party, but the issue there is that they have sucked the lifeblood out of this country and those in the deputy's party had a large element of responsibility in relation to that," she pointed out pointedly.

Billy gamely tried a comeback: "The minister said the banks sucked the lifeblood out of this country. She is now setting out a code of conduct for the banks to suck the lifeblood out of families," he retorted. "I remind the deputies opposite that the election took place two-and-a-half years ago."

A hubbub of heckling rose from Labour. "Every single day we come in here to clean up your bloody mess," shouted Aodhan O Riordain. "You're like Bobby Ewing getting out of the shower!" he added, an excellent 'Dallas' reference to a creative rewriting of history.

Mary Lou McDonald was next to get stuck into the bankers. "Whether vampires exist in reality, the characters we heard on the now infamous tapes are not fictional. All of us can appreciate the disgust, although not the shock, people felt at hearing the macho diatribes between these individuals," she sniffed.

"The disgust felt by the thousands of families across the State who are in mortgage distress is all the deeper."

She was clearly no fan of the former Anglo boss. "To listen to Mr David Drumm describe how he planned to go to the Central Bank with his arms swinging to demand 'the moolah' for his bankrupt bank is revealing," added Mary Lou. "We know there'll be no option for families to refuse to pay out the moolah or to pluck the figures from their posteriors."

Joan was ready for another hark back to the past, specifically the passing of the bank guarantee legislation in 2008 – the ultimate political pig in a poke which had been opposed by Labour but supported by Mary Lou's party. "Sinn Fein were leading lights in agreeing the guarantee," retorted Joan.

Mary Lou was undaunted. "Why did you leave the Anglo boys, who treated the State with such contempt, in place for five years after the guarantee on salaries of €175,000 and more? You're presiding over circumstances in which none of these moolah men have been brought to account," she declared.

Finally, it was the turn of Clare Daly in her regular role as Outraged of Kildare Street. She too was irate over the length of time it has taken for the wheels of justice to grind into some sort of action.

"The Taoiseach told us yesterday it takes time and that we are preparing a book of evidence, the exact same line that was given two years after the crisis. It is utter nonsense," she thundered.

But while Joan was happy to dig up the past, she was leery of putting any sort of kibosh on possible future events with loose talk. She did not wish to comment on Clare's call-to-arms regarding bankers.

"There were a number of occasions when comments were made in this House which seriously jeopardised, if in fact not totally prevented, prosecutions which might otherwise have been undertaken," she explained.

Better to err on the side of caution. Pity the Moolah Men never heard of the concept.

Irish Independent

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