Belfast Telegraph

Scandal leaves Dublin leaders with egg on face

By David Elliott

Just when the fat had been trimmed, the dust had settled and the wheat had been sorted from the chaff, revelations arrive to mix up the whole apple cart of banking in a storm of metaphors.

The now-infamous Anglo Tapes are already the stuff of legend in the still-building back catalogue of the banking crisis and do nothing to help the reputation of bankers nor relations between the Republic and the likes of Germany who bore the brunt of the bailout.

Until this week's revelations by this newspaper's sister publication the Irish Independent, the Republic was held up as an example of a banking system which can be turned around with the right help.

That the help was received in such an arrogant and foolhardy way by the bank, one of the worst offenders when it came to loose lending, will gall, not just with German Chancellor Angela Merkel or other European countries which backed the bailout, but also with the public.

After all, it was taxpayer's money which formed the basis of the bailout and it's taxpayers who are having to suffer through years of austerity to sort it out.

And the UK can also feel a little peeved because the intervention by the Dublin government in 2008 to guarantee bank deposits is said to have enticed money from UK savers.

There's no doubt the attitude of those involved is sickening but if one positive is to come from the whole episode it's that those responsible will hopefully be brought to justice.

Whether that will be enough to appease Angela Merkel et al remains to be seen and there will surely be some interesting communications between her and Enda Kenny.

More worrying for the Republic's economy is the damage the last few days will have done when it comes to negotiations for more funding from the European Union.

Although working solidly through its debt crisis over the last few years, an open palm to Brussels is now surely to be met with a raised eyebrow.

The Irish state has owned Anglo since 2009, although not at the time the tapes were recorded.

Even so, it will have a lot to answer for in the coming weeks and will be busy looking within itself for answers.

The global banking industry has already had wake-up call of legendary proportions over the last few years and while the latest headlines won't help the industry's brand, they certainly expose the fact that a lack of integrity at the highest levels is a recipe for disaster.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph