Thursday 21 November 2019

Lise Hand: No hint of contrition in this heated battle between bust billionaire and broken bank

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.
Crowds at the rally in support of the Quinns yesterday.

Lise Hand

Ciara Quinn gazed defiantly from the truck-turned stage, out over the thousands of supporters massed along the main street of Ballyconnell.

"Some day our war with Anglo will be over -- and make no mistake about it, this is a war, and when it ends I and the rest of my family will still be standing," she vowed. "We will not be bullied or intimidated by Anglo -- we will not go quietly into the night."

The crowd cheered and waved their placards. Behind her on the platform, her father Sean dabbed his eyes with a big white hanky. There's no doubt that the plummet from the mountain-top has taken its toll on Sean Quinn. He now faces the possibility of joining his son Sean Jnr in jail for contempt by the end of this week.

The crisp autumn air was heavy with grievance and defiance. It was ripe with the atmosphere of Us and Them. Quinn Country against the world -- and especially against the all-powerful troika of politicians, bankers and media who are conspiring to bring them down.

But just like the estimates of the crowd figures (one garda reckoned the turnout was less than 4,000, smaller than the last rally in July, while the organisers claimed that 9,000 had shown up) everything is murky about this sorry stand-off between a bust billionaire and a broken bank.

The Quinn family went on the attack yesterday, and each speech delivered during the rally reprised the same themes: they are the victims, at the mercy of a faceless financial institution which is using the dark art of negative spin to blacken their name and reputation, and which duped an innocent family into making reckless investments.

There were speeches from a variety of people, but unlike the last star-studded show of support during the summer, precious few famous faces made their way to the microphone yesterday evening.

There was a fierce speech from one of the organisers of the rally, Patricia Gilheaney of the Concerned Irish Citizens.

"The Quinn family have been denied their human rights and the poorest people in our country are picking up the tab for the sleaze-bags whose only agenda was to finish off the man who made us proud," she declared.

But the real fire and brimstone, the bitter denunciation of all the powerful forces ranged against their ordinary, bewildered family, came in a declamation by Sean's brother, Peter. It was a conspiracy.

"You are here because you believe a gross injustice has been perpetrated by the Irish State, the current Government, the Department of Finance and the financial regulatory authorities. Neither Anglo nor the media will break the Quinn resolve. Neither Elderfield, nor Dukes, nor Kenny nor Noonan nor any of the other bo***es in Dail Eireann will ever break the Quinn spirit," he shouted.

Us versus Them.

Ciara Quinn had been right about one thing. This is a war. However, it's not a glorious campaign, but a grubby, sordid battle with precious few heroes on either side. A bust billionaire in one camp, and a broken bank on the other -- both felled by hubris and greed.

There was grievance and defiance, but no contrition.

No acknowledgement that they partied more than most.

The Quinns can spin too, and tap into the genuine emotions of despair and anger and fear that grip ordinary families -- real ordinary families, that is, who never have and who never will earn one million euro a day -- and ride that wave of emotion all the way to the courts.

It's a horrible, grubby war, and the grandstanding on both sides really takes the cake.

But let's not mention cake.

Irish Independent

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