This week



Any crack at the bank?

ABOUT THIS time two years ago, a respectable family man in the capital’s suburbs was secretly cultivating noxious, explosive weapons which he then smuggled into a meeting with the intention of detonating them.

It may read like the storyline of the final episode of Homeland, but such were the real-life adventures of Dublin pensioner-turned-cult hero (at least with Liveline listeners) Gary Keogh who achieved fleeting but international fame after pelting AIB bosses with eggs at an extraordinary general meeting in 2009 in protest over the bank’s share collapse. Displaying a touch of evil genius, Keogh cultivated the eggs for six weeks until they were really evil-smelling “like the board of AIB”.

Members of the media who, to paraphrase a somnolent Enda Kenny, are often in danger of slipping into “deep reflection” during shareholder meetings, can only hope the rogue shareholder will come out of retirement one last time at AIB’s annual shareholder meeting on Thursday and add some excitement to the occasion.

But if Homeland has taught us anything, it’s that the most dangerous attacks come from those you least suspect. Could this year’s attack be an inside job? Will disgruntled employees whose pension rights were hit turn rogue and go on a rotten egg rampage?

Maybe the bank’s board should take a leaf out of Bertie’s book and get the anoraks out – it can’t be easy getting egg stains out of pinstriped Louis Copeland suits.

Political rivalry is no laughing matter

NO DOUBT European leaders will be feeling a little tense heading into this weekend’s crunch summit, what with the escalating crisis threatening the very existence of the euro project and all that.

But we should spare a thought for Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta, who has expressed fears that his country’s president Traian Basescu will make “a laughing stock” of him in Brussels.

Basescu has been doing his best to upstage the PM and hog the juiciest invites. EU heads of state and government have to attend these summits alone. This means there’s only one seat at the table per country – and who’s got his eye on the Romanian spot? You’ve guessed it, Mr Basescu.

And the president has got form – in May he beat the prime minister to the EU summit. Poor Ponta tried, unconvincingly, to look like he had better things to be at, and headed off to visit the Romanian troops in Afghanistan.

And just last week, Ponta came under pressure after allegations emerged that he had plagiarised his doctoral thesis. Naturally the premier blamed Basescu for stirring up the scandal as part of the “political war” between them.

While Enda Kenny may have a lot on his plate, at least he doesn’t have a recalcitrant Michael D showing him up on the international stage.

Taxing times at the ESRI

The ESRI found itself in the eye of a storm recently after publishing a paper on its website which suggested that 44 per cent of working parents could be better off on social welfare.

The Dublin think tank subsequently removed the paper from its site and tried to distance itself from the author.

Just when that PR disaster has been dealt with, the institute could quickly find itself back in the firing line again, this time for giving a platform to unpopular views on Ireland’s most sacred cash cow – our corporation tax rate.

The clue is in the title. Thursday’s research seminar at the ESRI is called A Fresh Look at the Link between Corporation Taxation and Inward Foreign Direct Investment.

Apparently Prof Holger Görg, of the University of Kiel, will present research which indicates that increased corporate tax rates for exporters did not affect the entry or exit of foreign plants in Ireland, even though foreign firms use Ireland as an export platform.

When we contacted the institute about the upcoming event, they were already distancing themselves from Prof Görg, making the point several times that he has absolutely no affiliation with the ESRI.

Once bitten, twice shy, it seems.