Sunday 19 November 2017

Shane Ross: Banking bubble lives on until the country bursts

So long as the pact between the banks and government exists, there is no chance of halting the debt timebomb,

Shane Ross

Two ghosts of Christmas past made a shock appearance in the dungeons of Leinster House just before the recess. There they were, apparitions from former glory days, hovering above the Dail's Finance Committee. The Bank of Ireland's 'public interest' directors answered the summons. TDs queued up, curious to inspect these strange creatures from another world. Joe Walsh and Tom Considine had floated down from a higher sphere. They returned to haunt the scene of long-forgotten battles.

Once upon a time the two visiting spirits were real. Joe Walsh was once a real Fianna Fail Minister for Agriculture. Today he is a relic, a legacy director of the troubled Bank of Ireland. Joe is the chairman of the bank's remuneration cabal, the head man on the committee which makes sure that chief executive Richie Boucher gets paid his €620,000 a year, plus perks. Joe dwells in the wonder world of bankers, a planet where insolvent companies still pay bloated salaries.

Tom Considine was once a real head of the department of finance. He was even a member of the board of the regulator when "light touch" regulation was all the rage. Such useful experience somehow justified his appointment as a public interest director. He too has settled into the weird world of banking. Like Walsh, already a highly rewarded State pensioner, he has added €90,000 a year as a public interest director. As a member of the bank's nomination committee he even approved the appointment of another banking insider, Archie Kane, as the latest Governor of the Bank of Ireland.

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