|A woman protesting outside the former Anglo Irish Bank in Dublin|
Their laughter and nonchalance brought the blood of a nation to boiling point. Not surprising given the fact that while former chief executive of Anglo Irish Bank, David Drumm, and his senior executives, Peter FitzGerald and John Bowes, joked, mocked and cursed at the Irish tax payers’ expense, their reckless behaviour was crippling our economy and forcing their financial burden onto us all. A financial burden that today still casts a long shadow.
But even though their behaviour in those now notorious phone conversations has left the Irish public red with rage, there are far bigger issues at hand than the galling behaviour of a bunch of bankers as they dragged the Irish economy down a sinkhole.
Every source has an agenda, so why has the content of these recorded phone calls surfaced now? Every dealing and trading desk in every bank in Ireland has their phone calls recorded as a matter of strict procedure, not just Anglo Irish Bank, and this material has been available to the Irish government and the Gardai for a very long time. So why, as the content of the tapes is drip-fed to the nation by the Irish Independent, are politicians suddenly jumping up and down?
The other fact that needs to be considered is that while everyone seems shocked, the reality is that these tapes reveal little new.
The fact is people are playing politics rather than getting to the bottom of this debacle. This is underlined by the fact the government is planning to launch a banking enquiry on the eve of the next general election.
The Irish people need to know who the source behind these leaks is and what their agenda is. Why did they surface now? Who has to benefit? What is the end game?
Further more, it is not that they laughed while hammering the final nails into the coffin of the Celtic tiger that should cause us concern, but that they were able to dupe the Financial Regulator and Government into believing their lies.
Because while they joked that they were sticking two fingers up to Britain and Germany, they were actually sticking their two fingers up at the people of Ireland.
However, no matter how hard it may be to contemplate at present, every story has two sides. And while the snippets of their recorded sniggers still sting, we need to hear the full story.
The truth is that many bank officials were telling lies, and not just those in Anglo. And it is only when we hear the full and frank details of how Drumm and his fellow cronies felt this was not only possible, but that their lies were believable to the government’s financial ‘experts’, will Ireland Inc be able to ensure such skulduggery never happens again.
Indeed, while such an understanding is critical for both government and regulators, opening up and confessing all is the only option left open to the central protagonists at Anglo if they want to walk the long and lonely road towards redemption.
There is no point hiding like rodents lurking in the gutter. They have more value in helping making sure it never happens again rather than just being national punch bags on which we can relieve our pent up anger.
In fact, their full, open and frank cooperation could not only help solidify banking regulation here, but provide an invaluable service to the Irish people by finally giving them the inside scoop of how such a mockery was made of the Department of Finance and the Financial Regulator.
Regardless of what intrigue is at play here, it is time that we turned the leak to the benefit of the Irish people and found out how Anglo and other banks were able to pull off what is tantamount to the biggest financial fraud in our nation’s history.
Because until we know the full details of this latest scandal, Drumm and Co will not be the last ones to laugh at us for being gullible fools.