David Drumm: ‘There is a witch hunt ... I convince myself that this will pass’


To say the least it’s extremely difficult because I am one of eight children. My mother is still alive, she is at home and has to read this every day and watch it on the nine o’clock news. My siblings don’t see me; they hear me on the phone every now and again but they read it, they have to talk to people every day who say ‘what’s going on with your brother?’

It has been very hard watching over two-to-three years people who knew me for years, who would have been firmly in my camp, so to speak, be worn down by all of the rhetoric, just worn down to the point where, they either believe it or they want to talk about it anymore, friendships kind of get broken up.

We have had to move state because my kids have had journalists at their school, journalists and photographers have camped outside our house for literally days. They have come from Ireland and the UK and they have sat in cars outside our driveway. I have had to run out of the house with my kids hiding in the backseat. I had to send one of my kids one day, up the road on her bicycle to see if they media were waiting at the top of the street for us to come out.

I have had the great Charlie Bird banging on my door on a Sunday night, it was my daughter’s 15th birthday, which she’ll never forget and I have moved them around and around to try and keep them away from the media. That’s what it’s like.

NOD: That sounds pretty devastating, how about your wife?

DD: My wife, we cope and we do tell ourselves that we will be OK and that we are good people and what have you. The way you cope with this is you convince yourself there are worse things in life and you constantly look for perspective, somebody that you know that has got cancer, somebody dies, somebody has a sick child God forbid, you say all I have is this ridiculous media thing, these lawsuits and what have you, but me, my wife and my two children are healthy. That’s how you cope.

NOD: Do see you seen an end to it, or is this your life?

DD: You could not survive if you didn’t think it would end. The day you don’t think it will end if the day you have lost hope and then you just couldn’t get up in the morning. When I get up in the morning, I start in a very negative tone of mind, that’s the way it is and then I convince myself  that it will pass and we will get through it, there will be another day. The big hit is the damage to the children, because you don’t get that back. Moving them and them watching me, watching what I have to do, at their age, they are seeing the stuff on the web anyway. Not having a normal life of interaction, because we have had to keep a low profile, so why don’t we go to other people’s houses, why don’t people come to our house, that kind of stuff.

NOD: So who is on your side now?

DD: People who know you, my mother my siblings and what have you, it’s very, very hard on them, but they are always there , they don’t waver, they take a huge amount of pressure. In my mother’s case, she is 76 and people will make Smart Alec remarks to her, which she just does not deserve whatever.  People who know me and have known me for years, there are a small group of people that just have not wavered. But I have lost friends.

NOD: Because of the coverage?

DD: Boston was in some way an upsetting experience, because I made great friendships there over a number of years and I kept up with them ever after I moved home to Ireland, we came back every year, we had a vacation home.

NOD: How do you answer people who say ‘I accept that but think of the damage the banks did in Ireland,' or people who are out of work or forced to emigrate. How do you relate to that?

DD: That’s what you want the debate to move to, or the discussion to move to is, the much broader reality than that other than it was one rogue bank and that nothing else mattered. Ireland had a 15-year boom, unprecedented and the Celtic Tiger. There wasn’t a person in Ireland in 2005/06/07, not a person, who did not believe Ireland would just rage on for decades. There was a report done by, I think it was NCB Stockbrokers, I think it was in  2005 or 06 and it was called 20:20. It predicted this economic miracle going on and it would be 2020 before this extraordinary growth, which I think was averaging like six percent year, would ever waver, because everybody believed it.

Bertie Ahern got up on the stump up in Donegal in the middle of 07 and said anyone who talks Ireland down should actually kill themselves. When I was on the road with the bank, with investors and what have you, we talked about Ireland, we talked about it because we believed in it, in the most positive terms. Young people, a young demographic, that critical 25-35 age group of people coming through, smart, educated, hungry, English speaking , meaning we had an edge from a U.S. perspective and from the U.S. coming into Europe perspective, productivity, ingenuity, a 12.5 percent tax rate, just everything that could be good for a country was there. And that Ireland was actually not booming, it was correcting to where it belonged. And there wasn’t a person you would meet in Ireland and in the UK, in Europe and the U.S., where I traveled with the bank for the years that I was CEO, who wouldn’t agree with that.