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A quick loan? Off with her head

It sometimes seems to me that Celia Larkin will get the same treatment from history as Anne Boleyn. A formidable, intelligent woman who could think for herself will be traduced and misunderstood simply because contemporary chroniclers preferred to use her as a pawn in their own games than to attest to unpalatable truths.

The Irish Times should be ashamed of itself. Yesterday, on the eve of their 150th anniversary, the so-called paper of record had, as its lead story, the fact that last year Celia Larkin got a "fast-tracked" second mortgage from the Irish Nationwide Building Society without initially providing details of her income, identification (seriously), bank statements and other loans held by her.

Never mind that the ink on that first mortgage was barely dry and presumably the building society got the information at that point. Or that the value of her property more than secured the loan.

No, the Irish Times wanted to get her into their story because they identified her as one who would fit nicely into their Lexicon of Loaded Words. And they needed all the loaded words they could get in order to chase down Michael Fingleton, whose good deed in giving back his bonus had to be denigrated.

The Irish Times was 11 years old when Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was born. Who would have thought that the sedate chronicler of commonwealth and croquet would become the greatest exemplar of Lenin's theory of Agit-prop in the Western world. Loaded words are the life's blood of agitation/ propaganda. Words like "payment", "deposit", "briefcase", "Galway" "banker", are so debased it would be funny if it wasn't so deadly serious.

Celia Larkin's second mortgage -- described in paragraph two of the story as a "payment" (see what I mean) was, they say, "connected to transactions investigated by the Mahon (the biggest loaded word of all) tribunal".

Do they tell us how it was connected? Of course not, because how it was connected would probably change how many readers would view this particular story.

Fifteen years ago, Celia Larkin was lent €30,000 from the Building Trust Fund of her previous employers towards the price of a previously rent-controlled house from which her two elderly aunts were facing eviction. To get such a loan was very convenient but not a crime.

In February of last year, Frank Connolly of the Irish Daily Mail began doorstepping one of those aunts (then aged 90), asking about the funding for the house. Ms Larkin decided that the time had come to pay it back. In the throes of re-locating to Clare and having already got a mortgage from INBS, she asked for another.

Last year's tribunal hysteria centred on the fact that while she waited a month (how fast-tracked was that?) for that loan to come through, she asked her former partner Bertie Ahern (huge loaded words) for a loan and repaid it with interest.

If there is anything suspect about Celia Larkin's second mortgage, then half the country is suspect. Who, in the good times, has not got a second or a third or a fourth mortgage for an extension or any of the figaries of the boom. And who has not got it fast-tracked -- if they were lucky enough to have a bank manager who would do it?

And, as I understand it, a lot of the trouble in the world arises because less credit worthy people than Celia Larkin had much bigger loans approved.

The problem for the Irish Times is that it was from the Irish Nationwide Celia Larkin got her loan -- something they see as quasi-criminal.

But not a cause for beheading. Yet.