The Punt: Welcome result for IBRC staff
Given the scale, both in terms of assets sold and time allowed, the liquidation of IBRC has been remarkably smooth.
Alas, the great bulk of cash raised from the sales will pass fairly rapidly through the Irish economy – on its way to pay off the former Anglo Irish Bank's Central Bank debt.
But the sell-off has helped set or find prices for all kinds of assets, something the economy badly needed.
And paying off NAMA – who actually pays off the Central Bank – means nearly €13bn of contingent liabilities are lifted off taxpayers' shoulders.
Much of the kudos for that will go to the special liquidators Eamonn Richardson and Kieran Wallace, and indeed to Michael Noonan who appointed them.
But we are glad to see that ordinary staff at IBRC are finally getting some recognition for the work.
When the bank went into liquidation, the remaining staff lost out on a previously agreed redundancy deal.
Yesterday, the liquidators announced that lump-sum payments based on length of service would be paid over after all for staff who are losing their jobs and who have indeed done the State some service by helping drive through the massive liquidation.
TOUCHY TOPIC OF TOBACCO LAW
A LITTLE-KNOWN lobby group of vending machine operators was in Dublin yesterday. Members of the Irish Cigarette Machine Operators met for an Extraordinary General Meeting, amid reports that the licence fee for parties who sell cigarettes could be bumped up from €50 to €1,000. This would include pubs and other outlets that only sell the product through vending machines. The measures "have the potential to decimate our industry in a very short space of time", spokesperson Cormac Dunne said.
The Punt is boggled by just how many lobbyists have come out of the woodwork in the tobacco legislation debate. Even something as simple as packaging has caused consternation and widespread wrangling – tobacco companies, retailers, publicans, the Government, health spokespeople, average Joes; everyone has something to say.
We're agog to see what the reaction will be if moves are ever made to follow up on a motion passed at the last Fine Gael ard fheis. It called for Health Minister James Reilly to investigate the possibility of separating the sale of tobacco and alcohol – meaning pubs, bars and off-licences could be completely prohibited from selling cigarettes, while shops would have to choose between selling booze or fags.
BOI'S AGM NOT EXACTLY PACKED
There were obviously big expectations for the turnout at yesterday's Bank of Ireland AGM. But inside the O'Reilly Hall at UCD, it resembled a mediocrely attended lecture, with just 200 or so shareholders having made the trip to have pops at, or heap praise on, the bank and its board.
Last year, the AGM was held at the Burlington – a smaller venue, but the turnout was much higher.
Shareholders berated the board for holding the AGM at 9.30am. They argued that it prevented many from attending as they would have to travel long distances and making it to Dublin by that time was too difficult.
Chairman Archie Kane, below, – who noted that 9.30am was normal business hours – was badgered on the point at some length and agreed that the board would consider the timing of next year's AGM. That wasn't enough to placate some shareholders, who pointed out the board had already had a year to consider the matter.
One shareholder noted that while the board receive travel expenses for the AGM, shareholders do not. The Punt can't imagine the bank doling out hotel vouchers. That would result in a packed turnout.
Imagine how long the questioning might last then.