The time is nigh…
It’s 3.36. Brian Lenihan should have been on his feet 20 minutes ago but the Dáil is still trying to finish Order of Business.
The sense of anticipation is enormous. The chamber is packed. The press gallery is packed. Gerry Adams is sitting in the distinguished visitors gallery and the public gallery – high above the chamber – is also packed.
This is one of the most important days in the history of the Dáil. There were a few days like this in the 1980s, when the economy was in peril. There must have been days like this during the worst of the Troubles, when the very existence of the State seemed doubtful. And other days, stretching back to the Emergency and to the foundation of the State.
Of course, the momentous moment will come a little later when Brian Lenihan announces the valuation that has been put on the assets, how much NAMA has been willing to pay. All the speculation is putting it at €55 billion to €60 billion, enough to save the banks, but not enough to prevent AIB from ceding majority ownership to the State. The opposition will argue that it’s not enough, that Joe Public will be forced subsidise banks and pay a premium for property assets, that will never recover value.
All will be revealed in the next half hour or so…