Tuesday 23 January 2018

Rescuing homeowners has to be the priority

Surely there is a limit to which the Government can push the blatant injustice of bottomless bailouts, writes Brendan O'Connor

As Alan Dukes strolled into Leinster House the other day, grinning like a Cheshire cat at some protesters outside, you would not have thought he and his colleagues at Anglo Irish Bank were going in to tell our elected representatives, bold-faced, that they have flushed €22bn down the toilet. Obviously neither Dukes nor Anglo boss Mike Aynsley is historically responsible for the catastrophe that is Anglo, but you would have thought Dukes would have at least had the manners to look a bit grim about the situation he is now overseeing. But then, why would he? Anglo has got the money, it continues to get it, and basically anyone who suggests that it shouldn't is browbeaten and told they don't understand economics.

Recently, Anglo was handed another €2bn without any fanfare or so much as a by-your-leave to the taxpayer, who will be stumping up this cash. We just woke up one morning to be told that Anglo had been given another €2bn. That is about the amount of the cuts in current spending -- in social welfare and health and education -- that the Government needs to find for the next budget. It will cause intense pain and stress in this country to find that €2bn. Yet that is the same €2bn that was casually added on to the ever-growing Anglo bill recently, seemingly with a stroke of the pen.

We all knew before last Wednesday that the money we are pouring into Anglo was going down the drain, but to hear it spelt out so casually and so bluntly on Wednesday was a shock. Two-thirds of every penny this country collects in tax this year has been flushed down the toilet into one small bank, never to be seen again.

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