Shane Ross: Prof Bertie meets Dr Sean
THE scene: the Aula Maxima in Maynooth College , Kildare on the outskirts of Dublin. A reunion of National University business alumni and other distinguished citizens selected by Maynooth College for special recognition.
Centre stage are Dr Sean Quinn and Professor Bertie Ahern.
Dr Quinn: "Morning Bertie, welcome to the Maynooth College reunion. Irish business is well-represented here today. I just love my honorary degree. With my underprivileged background, no one would ever have thought... Did you get yours for the same reason as me, Bertie?"
Professor Bertie: "Er, not exactly. Actually I received a higher honour, not a mere doctorate."
Dr Quinn: "Oh sorry, Bertie. That loud yellow suit of yours makes you look like an honorary doctor. I presumed that your time at the London School of Economics or your stellar career as an accountant justified an academic award. What qualifications did you bring away from the LSE and what class of accountant are you? ACA or ACCA?"
Professor Bertie: "Er, pass on that one, Doctor. Maynooth leapfrogged the honorary degrees hurdles specially for me. I am a professor."
Dr Quinn: "Congratulations. What class of a professor, Bertie?"
Professor Bertie: "The lads here tell me that I am a 'junked' professor."
Dr Quinn: "A what?"
Professor Bertie: "A 'junked' professor."
Dr Quinn: "What in the name of Ukrainian banditry is a 'junked' professor supposed to teach?"
Professor Bertie: "I haven't a clue, Doctor Sean. I assume that I will be lecturing in junked bonds after my vast experience as finance minister and Taoiseach. Sure, Irish bonds are all junked bonds since I left the Taoiseach's office."
Dr Quinn: "Hang on, Bertie. Look at the day's programme here. It says you are an 'adjunct' professor, whatever that is? Not 'a junked' professor."
Professor Bertie: "No matter. I thought they might have meant 'junket' professor. Ha Ha! What about you Sean, in what subject did you get your honorary degree ? A masters in corporate governance?"
Dr Quinn: "No, not at all. I was given the blue riband of honorary degrees -- the Maynooth Doctorate in Laws, known as an LL.D."
Professor Bertie: "Sure, Charlie McCreevy was given one of those LL.D yokes too. What do you know about keeping laws, Doctor?"
Dr Quinn: "Shag all, Professor. But it might come in useful in the next few months when I am visiting my relations detained in hospitality provided by the State."
Professor Bertie: "I suppose the shaggers here in Maynooth will be looking for a few bob for giving us our grand titles? Did you give them a donation, Doctor? Did they name you the Maynooth Professor of Banking after your experiences with Anglo ? Did they not set up a Quinn Foundation of Business Integrity?"
Dr Quinn: "No, that was another Quinn -- Lochlann Quinn. No relation. Lochlann was given an honorary doctorate in Laws by National University of Ireland in 2004. Lochlann is a former chairman of AIB .They even named the Quinn School of Business at UCD after Lochlann."
Professor Bertie: "Do all our universities give bankers awards, making them doctors of laws, or governors, or 'junket' professors? I heard that the last Bank of Ireland governor Pat Molloy was given a doctorate and made a pro-chancellor by Trinity College."
Dr Quinn: "It probably helps to be a banker, Bertie. UCC gave Lochlann's successor at AIB -- Dermot Gleeson -- the chair of the UCC governing body. Caused a bit of a stir, as AIB collapsed during his period at the helm in Cork.
"His brilliance as a banker was spotted by our bright academic friends just before the collapse of AIB. Rather embarrassing timing for UCC really -- but not half as embarrassing as it must be for Maynooth to host you and me, swanning around all over the campus today dressed like stuffed peacocks. Ha ha ha!! Especially when you are the tribunal star and I am lucky not to be behind bars. Is this a judiciary-free zone?"
Professor Bertie: "Definitely. I see Lochlann over there. Hello Dr Quinn, you know Dr Quinn, do you?"
Dr Lochlann: "Good morning Professor Ahern. Are many of your old gang here?"
Professor Bertie: "Buckets of them. I see all the old social partnership junkies up for another free lunch. Scoffing the grub over in the corner is Siptu's Dr Des Geraghty and the same sacred union's Dr Sheila Conroy, both of them got LL.D yokes too. And would you believe it, tucking into the same trough is another of my heroes, Dr John Dunne, the Ibec boss who sold out to the unions on so many partnership deals."
Dr Quinn: "And is that not Dr Kieran Mulvey over there in his robes? Another social partner who saved Ireland? Remember him, Professor?
"I studied the citation when he was getting his doctorate last year. It was enough to make even the bearded Mulvey blush. The eulogy gave him credit for the Croke Park Agreement -- an albatross that may yet sink Ireland's recovery plans. And it described him as an 'independent and original thinker'."
Professor Bertie: "The citation forgot to include the little gem that Dr Kieran Mulvey LL.D sought a nomination to run for Charlie Haughey's Fianna Fail back in 1989. Them citations never mention the little things that matter. He was a soldier of destiny. I loved him once."
Dr Quinn: "Do not knock the citations. They can be pretty accurate. Look over to the left, there's the poet Cathal O Searcaigh parading himself in his doctoral clothing. He was lauded to the heights by Maynooth before his fall from grace. Look how right they were about me too.
"When they gave me my gong, vice chancellor William Smyth could not contain himself. 'Sean Quinn,' he declared, 'has achieved national and international distinction. He is a worthy role model for an Ireland in which entrepreneurship, vision and personal courage are the primary constituents of the human capital which has generated and sustains the Irish economic miracle. He is an Irishman of distinction and is a worthy candidate for recognition by this university.'
"My citation should be mandatory reading for the judiciary, the media, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Labour and Sinn Fein. The guys in the ivory towers are dead right. Dr Sean Quinn has 'vision, determination and economic insights'. Just like you always had, Bertie. That's why you are a professor. We are both role models."
Professor Bertie: "Good on you, doctor. Thank God I left Fianna Fail. Now I can mix with the mighty in Maynooth without any stain on my character."
Sunday Indo Business