Neutered bankers still selling Taoiseach a pup


DAIL SKETCH:NEUTERING DOESN’T work on every dog. Even though the undercarriage is gone, some continue to swagger around with that cock-of-the walk attitude, confident as ever.

Just like the bankers. They may have lost their “fundamentals” but that doesn’t stop them behaving like they still have them.

Right up to the bank guarantee, these blokes were strutting up before Oireachtas committees to insist: “Our fundamentals are sound.”

And we remember how people who are now in Government, but were in opposition back then, stormed away from those meetings, fuming.

They knew things were bad. They knew from their constituents that lending had dried up. They knew they were being spun a yarn.

But the bankers, oozing arrogance and condescension, insisted otherwise. We own them now, unfortunately. Right down to their shrivelled fundamentals.

Not that they seem to know it.

Yesterday, the bankers were under scrutiny again in the Dáil after senior public servants decided to tell them some home truths about their handling of the mortgage debt crisis. (Self-serving and delusional.) The Central Bank’s Fiona Muldoon was among them. Speaking at a Banking Federation conference on Tuesday, she told the pinstriped ones to stop acting like petulant teenagers and confront the issue.

Not surprisingly, the Opposition piled in behind her. If the bankers won’t face up to the consequences of their irresponsible lending, then the Government should force them to deal with people now unable to repay the loans.

Micheál Martin, Gerry Adams and Shane Ross agreed the Government is letting them away with murder. But Enda wasn’t going to entertain such an allegation. Oh no.

He told the Dáil that, only the other week, he informed the Dublin Chamber of Commerce dinner that the banks weren’t doing enough. Oh yes.

Furthermore, the Government has regular meetings with the bankers through the Economic Management Council. And they’d be “well advised to sit down on a bilateral basis” and negotiate.

But they haven’t done it, chorused the Opposition leaders. Can the Taoiseach not see that? Did he not hear what Fiona said? She wasn’t the only one. John Moran, secretary general of the Department of Finance, also gave the bankers an earful.

But any day now, it seems, the fat cats will heed their Government masters and engage with the mortgage debt crisis.

That’s what the Taoiseach thinks. After all, he’s had harsh words with them, more than once.

One can only imagine the state of those poor bankers as they stumble across the road from Government Buildings for a hairshirt lunch in Patrick Guilbaud’s followed by an Armagnac or three for the nerves. “The regulator is barking very loudly, Taoiseach, and you are not listening to what is being said,” said the Fianna Fáil leader, a fluent canine speaker.

Shane Ross despairs for our trusting Taoiseach. Bankers can’t even lie straight in the bed. “They are involved in a policy to extend and pretend . . . denial, delay and deceit.” “Believe you me, Deputy Ross, they have been told in plain English what the requirement is,” insisted Enda.

But they don’t take advice, sighed an exasperated Ross. “You can’t treat these bankers as normal human beings.” Ate you alive, they will. Them and their phantom fundamentals.