Opinion Letters

Saturday 19 January 2019

Stop pussyfooting around scoundrel bankers and punish them

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. Photo: AP
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. Photo: AP
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

"It blowed away, it blowed away; All the crops that I've planted blowed away; You can't grow any grain if you ain't got any rain; All except the mortgage blowed away." Pete Seeger wrote the above, Bruce Springsteen gave it meaning. He called it 'My Oklahoma Home'.

Ophelia came and went. For two days, Ireland hid within its anger. Ministers we never see gave us the full-feathered peacock strut. Then Ophelia blew out up near Iceland... but the same old, same old didn't go with it. Seeger sang about Dust Bowl America of the 1930s. Banks repossessing homes, etc.

Yesterday, the headlines were about the banks' refusal and scandal regarding tracker mortgages here (Irish Independent, October 19).

So let's stop pussyfooting around. The banks are engaged in appalling behaviour. Leo Varadkar is calling them in for a finger-wagging. Don't. Hit them with legislation and immediate cutting back of cash. Cannot be done? Really!

Go back to November 2008. Bust and negligent banks appeared on the late Brian Lenihan's door step pleading for a bail-out. They were given one with extraordinary conditions. Both AIB and the Bank of Ireland will pay nothing to the State for the next 20 years. Written off over losses. A joke. So if legislation that brought austerity, penury, pain, emigration, low wages and curtailed services was brought in to save those banks within hours of Mr Lenihan and Brian Cowen's meeting with the bankers, the same timeframe can be done today for the beleaguered mortgage holders.

The question is who runs Ireland? An elected government or big business? The latter appears the most logical. The tracker scandal is fraud, it's theft. Time to send in the Garda and Revenue and start what Iceland did 10 years ago. Jail the corrupt. They broke a nation.

John Cuffe

Dunboyne, Co Meath

Society blind to white-collar crime

Might I suggest raising the possibility of placing criminal liability on those individual bankers who had primary responsibility for the decision to wrongfully preclude individuals from availing of their legal entitlement to their tracker mortgage options? It would serve to wonderfully concentrate the minds of those who are, at present, proving to be so recalcitrant and dilatory in discharging their obligations.

Even the asking of the question will send shudders of fear throughout the banking hierarchy. Furthermore, the law as to criminal conspiracy would also appear to have some application.

The contrast between the State's attitude to the behaviour of these bankers who consciously devised their wrongful strategy [that it was not so stretches credulity] with the State's attitude towards a man who wrongfully claimed his late mother's pension and was recently sentenced to an 18-month term of imprisonment, provides a salutary lesson in this society's blindness towards white-collar crime.

The latter, despite being in severe family and health difficulties, had at least the excuse that his fraud, unlike that of the bankers, was not a consciously devised scheme but rather a crime of omission - a failure to inform the pension authorities of the death of his mother.

Gerry Roche

Ballyvaughan, Co Clare

Time for men to speak up on Eighth

Last month, I joined an estimated 40,000 people at the March for Choice in Dublin. It was an exhilarating day, and one I hope marks a turning point in the fight for reproductive justice in Ireland.

Since becoming actively involved in pro-choice activism a year ago, I have been struck by how while many men hold pro-choice views, they are often more reluctant to speak out and campaign for abortion rights in Ireland. This is in stark contrast to their female counterparts who have braved derision and stigma to put this issue at the top of the political agenda where it belongs.

With a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment due to take place in the coming year, this is something that has to change. To paraphrase a speaker at last month's march, this is about standing with women, not fighting for them. Local pro-choice groups exist across Ireland so there is ample opportunity for men to join in the campaign to ensure women in Ireland have the right to choose whether to go through with a pregnancy or not.

Steven Glackin

Galway City, Co Galway

Convention numbers don't add up

I share the concerns of Mattie McGrath and Rónán Mullen regarding the Constitutional Convention but for different reasons.

The concept of a public forum for constitutional issues has merit in terms of broadening debate outside the narrow confines of the Oireachtas. However, it is the technical aspects of its composition that bothers me. First off, the idea of 33 seats reserved for politicians is completely excessive. It is disproportionate that one third of the seats are allocated to the Oireachtas - which already has its own forum. Seasoned politicians could, and I emphasise the word 'could', be overpowering and dilute contributions from the general public. Surely all that was required was a facilitator, maybe a senior judge like Mary Laffoy, the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil and the Seanad and perhaps one nominee from each of the parties?

Secondly, any basic understanding of statistics would suggest that a selection of 66 from a population of 3,510,069 over the age of 18 (Source: Census 2016) is not sufficient to render the sample truly representative. It is 35-plus years since I did statistics at college but using some of the online survey tools, a sample of 385 would be required to give a 95pc confidence in the sample with a plus or minus 5pc margin of error. Discounting the 33 who cannot be regarded as representative, the remaining 66 only give an 80pc confidence with a plus or minus 6pc margin of error.

The sample is too small and is disproportionately filled with professional politicians.

Frank Buckley

Tullamore, Co Offaly

Nothing could spoil Irish trip

Our luggage arrived in Dublin 30 hours late, our son was horribly sick one night from a fish-and-chip shop, we were rained on repeatedly, and some scoundrel smashed the window on our rental car (outside the Guinness brewery) the day before our two-week holiday ended.

And you know what, Ireland? It was the best holiday we ever had. We looked over impossible cliffs, lit candles in old churches for our dead mothers, tramped through graveyards, saw our names on shops, saw our uncles' faces on grubby street corners, imagined the yearning of our famished kin waving at crooked shores, and bought stupid hats.

We loved the horrible Irishness of the place, especially the Irish themselves. Stay gold, stay green.

Kelly and Will Egan, Laurie Fagan

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Irish Independent

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