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TH€ PUNT: Greasing wheels of austerity

AUSTERITY may or may not work, but they know how to do it in Greece. Among the measures is a 95pc cut in the pay of chief executives in the nationalised banks.

It is all very well to quadruple the take from property tax, and slash public sector pay in order to preserve jobs, but surely this is going too far.

We can hear Irish ministers explaining that the chief executives would pack their brief cases and leave if anything of the kind were done here.

But then, who would be keen to employ a Greek banker these days – or an Irish one for that matter? Perhaps IBRC still has a few vacancies.

Even more shocking, to some, is that the new Greek salaries are pegged to those of secretaries-general in the public service – who get around €40,000 a year, after tax.

Which appears to suggest that Irish bankers enjoy an even bigger premium than their Greek counterparts did.

Cutting the Irish bankers' official cap to secretaries-general size would be a reduction of around 55pc rather than 95pc, and would still be in six figures.

We would do well not to forget

"MOMENTO mori", "Remember death", was the line whispered in classical times to Roman generals arriving home in triumph.

It was the reminder that no triumph is quite complete, that all of us remain mortal.

Ireland Inc had a pretty triumphant run in the bond markets over the past week. Investors were falling over themselves to lend to the ESB, Bank of Ireland and the Government. Rating agencies hailed our successes.

A less stoic people might be tempted to lose the run of themselves in such circumstances.

Any creeping complacency should have been brutally crushed yesterday.

When fast food chain McDonald's borrowed €500m on the markets, it was charged 2.5pc to borrow over 12 years. That's about half what the Irish State would pay.

We're finally on the road to recovery, it may be some time before we finally arrive.

"Momento mori."

Bookie plays Olympic games

Paddy Power is one of those Irish companies that has become exceedingly good at what it does.

From humble beginnings in 1988, when it was formed following the merger of three bookmakers, the company is stamping out an international presence in Canada, Australia, the UK, Italy and France.

The US beckons also, once various states decide on legislation that will legalise online poker, for instance.

And while the Olympics isn't exactly a big money spinner for the group, Paddy Power isn't a company to shirk an ambush marketing opportunity.

It has revealed that it was about to injunct the head of the London Olympics organising committee, Sebastian Coe (pictured), to appear in the high court at a case concerning adverts erected by Paddy Power before the Games got under way.

The billboards proclaimed Paddy Power as the official sponsor of the largest sporting event in London this year.

Underneath, it clarified it as London, France, (the first, and only, event was an egg and spoon race).

The Olympics committee took exception and wanted it removed. Cue lawyers. Paddy Power was readying an injunction for Coe to appear in court – on the day of the opening ceremony – to explain why the ads should be removed.

The Olympic committee relented and dropped its action. After all, it's not the winning, it's the taking part that counts.

Irish Independent