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Sunday 17 November 2019

Banks 'should share profits with suffering charities'

Don Lavery

The banks, after a return to solvency, should set up a social reparation fund to disburse a proportion of their post-tax profits to charitable causes, a conference of the Irish Bank Officials Association was told yesterday in Dublin.

Ms Mary Davis, managing director of Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia, said such a fund in the decades to come following recapitalisation would stand as a small but important memorial "to the folly of the few and the pain of the many who were forced to rebuild this sector and wider society".

A keynote speaker at the Croke Park conference, she said ordinary bank workers were not responsible for the banking crisis and the deterioration in our national fortunes.

"But others are . . . aside from potential criminal and regulatory implications, there is also the issue of corporate social responsibility.

"Because there are sections of Irish society -- those with a disability for example -- who have less services today then they would have, had the banking crisis not happened. That's a fact. And those who caused this crash owe them," she said.

Ms Davis also condemned so-called tiger kidnappings, where bank officials and their families are held hostage by criminal gangs.

"That heinous and criminal invasion into the home of a bank worker is an invasion into every Irish home. It repulses each one of us equally," she said.

Ms Davis, who is also chair of the Taskforce on Active Citizenship, said the vision of an Ireland back on track where community not economy reigned supreme came from ordinary Irish people.

"I stress the word ordinary -- because in every ordinary one of us is an extraordinary depth of determination and decency upon which we can build this better Ireland."

She knew this well, she said, and saw it every single day, in every county.

"Because four or five times every single day an ordinary Irish mother and father is told by a doctor or midwife that their child has been born with a disability.

"They learn that the child which they had imagined and dreamed will not be."

She said there was shock, trauma and disbelief but also strength, love and determination and pride which could be seen in the eyes of a mother or father as their child represented their town or county in the Special Olympics.

"And yet it is in every single one of us -- that innate strength and determination and goodness.

"To be ordinary and Irish is to be extraordinary. And if we can tap into that strength and determination there is nothing we cannot do as a people," she said.

Sunday Independent

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