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'Early' closure of Anglo could cost less, claims Boyle

PHASING out Anglo Irish Bank over a shorter time period could soon become a less costly option, Green Party senator Dan Boyle said yesterday.

Addressing delegates at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, the Green Party chairman described Anglo as a "notoriously failed bank".

"We may be coming close to a time when the alternative of phasing out the bank over a shorter time period will become the more cost-effective option," Mr Boyle said.

"Anglo Irish is a failed bank, a now notoriously failed bank. The policy priority has to be about cutting losses and not about rescuing the bank in whatever form."

However, a Green Party spokesman was quick to point out that the senator was speaking in a personal capacity,. adding that the Greens had worked well with Fianna Fail on the banking strategy so far and would continue to do so.

And the Department of Finance said protecting the interests of the taxpayer was the over-riding concern in all dealings with Anglo.

A spokesman said an immediate liquidation would be an extremely costly option, and phasing the bank out over a slightly longer period would also cost the taxpayer dearly.

Mr Boyle had said that anger was more justified in relation to the "dead money that the taxpayer had been required to pump into Anglo Irish Bank and the Irish Nationwide Building Society", and that the failures of Irish Nationwide were proportionately more catastrophic than Anglo's.

"The commission of inquiry into banking needs to ask particular questions of Irish Nationwide and those who have had responsibility for the decisions and actions of Irish Nationwide should account for themselves before our courts," he said.

Change had not come quickly enough to the appointments systems in financial institutions, but he welcomed the new financial regulator and Central Bank governor as individuals from outside the "incestuous circle of Irish financial services".

"As we further peel the onion of what has gone wrong in the Irish banking system, there also has to be expectation that further departures from Irish banks, even among those recently promoted, must be expected," he added.


Bord Snip chairman Colm McCarthy predicted that water charges and a property tax were inevitable and would happen eventually.

One year after the publication of his controversial report, he told the MacGill School the Government's overall budgetary strategy was on course, if not exactly on target.

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"They are not far off it, so we are still at a very early stage in the fiscal correction but it seems to be more or less on target," he said.

But the absence of water charges meant higher taxes to make up the cost of providing water and not having a residential property tax weakened the revenue base of local government.

"The commission on taxation recommended both of those measures, some form of tax on residential property and that we should charge for water and I think both of those things will happen eventually.

"It looks as if neither of those measures are likely in December's Budget but they haven't been ruled out altogether," Mr McCarthy warned.

Ultimately, we did not have a choice, he added.

"The money is not out there to borrow so our current access to capital markets is conditional on sticking to the programme so I think one way or another, we will stick to the programme and if we don't charge for water or we don't bring in a residential property tax, then some other tax will be higher or some other element of public spending will be cut. The sums eventually have to add up," he said.

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