Support for shameless Quinn is misplaced
TAKE ALL the money raised this year by the cuts in child benefit. And from cutting the school clothing and footwear allowance. And all the cuts to jobseekers’ benefit, rent supplement and fuel allowances for the elderly.
Throw in the restriction of one-parent family allowance to children under seven. Pile on all the cuts in back-to-education allowances and community employment schemes. Take all of that money from the pockets of the poorest people in Ireland this year and you still haven’t reached the amount Seán Quinn agrees he owes the Irish taxpayer.
This is nothing to do with the €2.3 billion he borrowed from Anglo Irish Bank to buy its shares. This is the €455 million he borrowed to buy property – using that property as security. In all the noise and distraction, this much is undisputed: Quinn borrowed the money and put up the property assets as collateral. The State, however idiotically, took over that loan. Since Quinn can’t pay it back, the Irish people now own those properties.
There is something else that is not in dispute: that Quinn is openly, flagrantly and quite proudly trying to hang on to this money that belongs to us. As he said on Sunday, he took a “very conscious decision” to do “everything in our power to take as many assets as we could”. The basic intention is very simple – to transfer assets from the Irish people to the Quinn family.
Thus, for example, the status of Karen Woods, a part-time receptionist with Joe Duffy Motors in north Dublin, as recipient of one of the largest public salaries in Ireland. The lucky Karen, then the girlfriend (now the wife) of Seán Quinn jnr, was paid €320,297 after tax (the equivalent of at least €400,000) last year by a Russian company whose assets belong entirely to the Irish people.
This is more than twice what the Taoiseach is paid, with the added refinement that there is no evidence of what work Woods does in return for this salary. Every cent she got, and every euro of the €455 million, is money kept from a State that is, for example, struggling to provide services for young people with intellectual disabilities.
At the same time, but completely separately, every Irish person or business who takes out home, motor or commercial insurance is having to pay the price, quite literally, for Seán Quinn’s mismanagement of his insurance business.
For at least the next 12 years, every time any of us takes out insurance, we will have to pay an extra 2 per cent to recoup the approximately €1.1 billion Quinn lost in his gamble on Quinn Insurance. Thus, even when we leave aside entirely the €2.3 billion Anglo loan, Quinn’s actions are siphoning €1.5 billion from Irish taxpayers, consumers and businesses.