Tag Archive for Bertie Aherne

Why Hanafin’s hubris should herald the end for Fianna Fáil

Mary Hanafin waves goodbye to Leinster House.

There is, as we say, a narrative.

It’s not hard to work out.

Sure, Fianna Fáil were to blame- but the blame was not theirs alone.

It was Lehmann’s, and the Greeks, and the banks, and anyone else you care to mention.

We all partied- remember that?

Mary Hanafin went on Marian Finucane’s show this morning and gave what can only be described as a a car crash of an interview.

It was filled with the kind of arrogance and ignorance that – in a functioning democracy – should ensure the death of Fianna Fáil and all they stand for.

She is not alone in adopting this narcissistic narrative; ever since the departure of Brian “Tweedle Dumbest” Cowen, the story has been the same, led by the cringeworthy videos of Mícheál Martin strolling around his native Cork, oblivious to the misery he had wrought upon it.

It’s worth pointing out to Mary and the rest that it was nothing to do with the banks, or Lehmann’s, or the Greeks- the blame for the country’s economic destitution lies wholly and solely with Fianna Fáil. As the biggest party in government during the boom, they had responsibility to manage it. They failed utterly.

The Greeks don’t blame the Americans, or the banks, or Lehmann brothers. They know they massaged the figures to get into the euro – if any bank bears any responsibility, it is Goldman Sachs, who dealt the cards for the three-card trick that fooled the rest of the world into thinking they were solvent.

But Mary does. What she doesn’t do is explain what the Americans or Lehmann’s had to do with runaway lending, an unrestrained construction industry, rampant rises in public spending and reckless endangerment of the country’s finances.

When asked a hypothetical question about whether the big Don, Bertie Aherne, should be thrown out of the party should Mahon find that he acted inappropriately, she held the party line- “let’s wait for that decision”.

Even on the deck of the Titanic, she cannot bring herself to point out the iceberg.

It is, of course, the party line, and as Labour’s quislings have shown since their rise to power and subsequent similar betrayal of the Irish working class, the party comes before everything.

Psychopaths are usually defined by a number of characteristics, often to do with amorality and criminality.

Key among them are an absence of remorse or empathy – given their inability to apologise to the people of this country for destroying it, it is not unreasonable to suggest that Fianna Fáil is a psychopathic party.

They destroyed the country. And they in turn should be destroyed. They should never darken the door of Dáil Eireann again.

Towards the end, Hanafin even had the gall to suggest that she is not done with politics.

I hope to god the Irish people will show her that politics is done with her.

Let that be our new beginning.

Finding the right target in Enda’s blame game

Let me say this to you all:

You are not responsible for the crisis.

That didn’t last long, did it?

Yesterday Enda did another of his patented u-turns (don’t worry, they’re all part of his five-point plan) and blamed the Irish people for going “mad” on cheap credit.

How can he possibly blame us, the plain people of Ireland?

Surely the fault lies with the bankers, right?

Wrong.

Nothing will be learned from this financial crisis unless we learn why it happened, who was to blame, and how to stop it happening in the future.

The bankers and reckless lenders are obvious targets, but we had failed long before we ever got on the playing field.

The responsibility for the crisis lies almost exclusively with those tasked with regulating and monitoring the affairs of the state- the politicians.

Let us remember that it wasn’t just Fianna Fáil that were responsible either- the free-market zealots of the Progressive Democrats, Fine Gael and the Labour Party (don’t be fooled by the name) were equally to blame.

Even when in opposition, they nodded like donkeys as Aherne, McCreevy and Cowen stripped away the protection the plain people of Ireland were entitled to.

So Enda is hardly going to sit up there in the middle of his Davos dancing monkey act and admit that he was partially to blame now, is he?

It is absolutely true that people borrowed wildly and that banks lent recklessly, and some would say who could blame them. Both were trying to live the dream of a lifestyle and profits beyond their wildest dreams.

But how could they do this? Because, ever since the first sod was turned at the IFSC, every single piece of legislation or regulation preventing them from taking excessive risks with borrowed money was removed by the politicians.

It may have changed in the last three years or so as normal people were forced to learn about bond yields and sovreign debt, but the plain truth is that most people are not financially literate enough to understand even basic financial products like mortgages and life insurance.

I’ve spent the guts of ten years in the financial services industry, talking to ministers and central bankers and traders and fund managers. I’ve studied finacial instruments trading at university level.

All it has taught me is that the more I learn, the more there is to learn.

Those operating in the markets- even in the personal finance end of them-  are for the most part unsentimental, mathematical and very ambitious.

They will stretch the limit of any rule in search of a profit- that is their creative genius.

But in removing the rules of the game, we allowed them to indulge themselves and us, and we all got hit with the bill.

We even tore up most of our planning laws just so we could allow developers to stack their piles of yen and German pensions on one another in a race to the top, not realising it would all fall down around us.

Sure, lenders and borrowers are to blame, but only to a point; if you give the fox the keys of the henhouse, don’t be surprised if all that’s left are feathers and blood.

What galls most people is that no banker or politician has yet to face the courts in relation to the €100 billion confidence trick played on Irish people.

The sad reason for this is that very little of what was done was illegal- we simply removed those barriers and let them get on with it.

And so to the hide-and-seek champion of Mayo, who did his monkey dance for the great and the good at Davos yesterday, a day after many of them took their chunk of the €1.25 billion Enda so selflessly gave them on our behalf.

And today, ministers gather round to defend him- even Labour ministers – saying that he was either partially or wholly right.

They were joined, predictably, by the Irish Independent and Newstalk, whose overlord Denis O’Brien insisted to the Irish Times that “he (Kenny) should be applauded and not in any way criticised.”

His minions duly obliged, Fionán Sheehan of the Indo playing the role of government representative on Vincent Browne last night, and the Lunchtime program on Newstalk offering an embarrassing plethora of talking heads echoing the Taoiseach’s comments.

The level of stage management of the cabinet response warrants closer questioning- in other words, there is reason to believe that Enda’s comments were no regular political gaffe.

There is reason to believe that what you saw and heard yesterday is the first step in selling the next- and probably the most onerous- austerity budget to the Irish people.

In December, Enda went of the TV to pre-empt a public outcry and in a stilted performance, his hear slicked to his head, he told us we were not responsible. Gullible fools that we were, we bought into the savage cuts – sure weren’t we all in it together?

That won’t work again, and the next targets – the old, the sick, and the young once more, but also the public servants and PAYE workers – won’t be as amenable, so a change of tactics was called for.

So Enda and his cabinet have decided that we are in fact to blame – and in doing so, they are preparing us to take our personal share of the pain that is coming. After all, it’s our fault that we’re in this mess.

What Enda should have said yesterday was “yes, the banks and the borrowers were to blame, but we- the democratically elected politicians, dropped the ball. Lads, the party is over. Europe’s biggest casino will be back, but there will be limits on how much you can gamble with our money in the future”.

Instead, he blamed you and me.

At the same time, the treacherous Fianna Fáil spiv that is Conor Lenihan appeared on the radio, blissfully unaware of the scale of his own hypocrisy.

Part of a dynasty that did its best to destroy our economy, he is now travelling the world touting for foreing direct investment.

For Russia.

Now some people might say that ‘traitor’ is too strong a word in those circumstances.

I’m glad I’m not one of them.