Monday 18 December 2017

Halloween came early for the banking boys

Last week's bankers' conference was the stuff of nightmares for a largely unsuspecting audience, writes Brendan O'Connor

The lads at the Irish Banking Federation conference would have settled into their seats last Tuesday not expecting much to happen. Fiona Muldoon, while she is the head of banking supervision in the Central Bank, is considered by the banking lads to be a junior regulator. She's only been in the job six months, and, of course, she's a woman. Boss Honohan was away, so presumably nothing of real importance was going to be said, and even if it was, it wouldn't have any real authority coming from Muldoon, who is not a household name outside the world of banking.

But of course they were wrong. What happened over the next 20 minutes was the beginning of what was clearly a premeditated, pre-agreed series of open attacks on the banks by the State. While Honohan would arrive back into the middle of the furore caused by Muldoon, claiming to be just off a plane and not really up to speed, those in the know would say that such an attack would not have happened if Honohan objected to it. Indeed, some people will tell you that it goes much higher up than that. One of the few issues that unites both parties in Government is annoyance at the banks for embarrassing the Government as the banks continue to do, through what many now see as insubordination.

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