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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 6, 2013 @ 10:53 pm

    Emergency legislation emerges slowly

    Harry McGee

    It’s just after 10.40, ten minutes after Minister for Finance Michael Noonan was due to get on his feet and present the emergency legislation on the promissory notes to the Dail.
    The Cabinet has been in session since 9pm drafting the legislation that will essentially liquidate the skeletal remains of Anglo Irish Bank (now known by the unwieldy title of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation) with its assets transferring to NAMA and the accountancy firm KPMG taking over management duties.
    There has been a stay of execution but it is temporary. The guillotine will fall and Anglo will be no more before first light tomorrow.
    Michael Noonan will now get up on his feet to address the Dail at 11pm. The reason for the delay is that the Opposition needed to be briefed on the contents of the Bill.
    It’s been a whirlwind evening. Rumour started circulating from early afternoon that the Government was going to push an emergency bill through the Dail tonight. In any event, there have been lots of leaks to the financial press over the past couple of days (much of it emanating from Frankfurt) and it was clear that the ECB had the former Anglo in its sights.
    This was the solution they said could not be done. Did the Government want it? I don’t think so. But what the ECB wishes the ECB gets seemingly. And so Anglo will be no more.
    The promissory notes will be extinguished along with the IBRC. What it will be replaced with is an issue of long-term bonds. There have been various narratives tonight about the duration of the term, ranging from 27 to 40 years. Whatever, the overall debt will remain the same… it may become greater if the cumulative interest is taken into account. But in the more immediate future, the annual Anglo debt cliff of €3.1 billion which the Government faced each March has been, if not bulldozed, certainly reduced in size. The upshot will be smaller annual repayments which will undoubtedly help the bottom line.
    The details of that, plus how the bank will be ‘disappeared’ will all become apparent over the course of the next few hours.
    It’s quite exciting and it’s one of those nights where the Dail is pulsing with people and with energy. After the Dail debate, it will go to the Seanad from before midnight with the debate scheduled to be concluded at 2am or 2.30am at the outset. President Michael D Higgins who was in Rome on an official visit has returned home by Government jet and is available to sign any legislation into law as required, before resuming his trip tomorrow.
    There have been a few nights in the last few years that compare to this and all are related to the bank crisis. There was the night of the bank guarantee and also the decision to nationalise Anglo Irish Bank where the political equivalent of the Ghost of Banquo first emerged… the incorporeal Cabinet meeting.


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