Tag Archives: corruption in ireland

A Question Of Tort

Would you like to work with us here in the bank?

We are the one profession in Ireland where there have been no pay cuts, no redundancies and no company closures.

We certainly compare favourably with the oldest profession, since we’re not the ones being screwed.

Banks around the world are making money again, from lending at high rates to countries whose economies are shagged because they had to bail us out in the first place, we’ll soon be looking for more staff. So, do you have what it takes to join us? Try this aptitude test….

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  1. If you get this job, will you put on your Facebook page that you work as (a) a slurry-pit cleaner; (b) a recruitment officer for the Taliban; (c) a banker, and proud if it?
  2. Would you put any spare money you had into (a) bank shares; (b) property; (c) a biscuit-tin under your bed (we bankers aren’t stupid, you know)?
  3. Who was your childhood hero: (a) Superman; (b) Robin Hood; (c) Shylock?
  4. “Money doesn’t grow on trees”. Doesn’t this mean that the whole crisis is the fault of (a) the farmers; (b) the Public Sector; (c) spongers on the dole?
  5. At the end of A Christmas Carol, did you (a) feel filled with the spirit of Christmas; (b) rejoice that Tiny Tim lived; (c) hurl the book aside in disgust at how Scrooge had turned into a spineless wuss?
  6. Which of the following would fill you with dread: (a) the Boogeyman; (c) the Financial Regulator (I know, ridiculous, but we have to ask); (c) an increase in the higher tax rate?
  7. What’s the best thing about Big Brother: (a) the arguments when they’re drunk; (b) the tasks; (c) evictions live on TV (great idea for a whole new programme there)?
  8. “I don’t know what a Tracker Mortgage is.” Was this said by (a) an actor in a TV ad; (b) a beggar on O’Connell Bridge; (c) the Governor of the Central Bank?
  9. Would you rather be (a) taken in a Tiger kidnapping; (b) taken by Tiger Woods; (c) taken for a Tiger Beer by a property developer?
  10. Who do you like most in Buffy: (a) Buffy; (b) Willow; (c) the evil blood-sucking vampires?
  11. Nick Leeson got six-and-a-half years for bringing down Barings Bank. Seanie Fitzpatrick brought down the entire Irish banking system. Should he get (a) ten years; (b) life; (c) a substantially reduced bonus this year?
  12. The Minister for Finance says bankers’ salaries should be capped at half a million euro. Is he (a) serious; (b) kidding;  (c) out of his fucking mind?

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If you answered all C’s, welcome aboard, Brother Banker! You and I are practically soulmates.

Or we would be, if either of us had a soul.

A Book at Bert-time

The Revenue Commissioners have granted tax-exempt status to the proceeds of sales of Bertie Ahern’s autobiography, on the grounds that it has “cultural or artistic merit”.

They don’t usually grant this to books that are factual, or they’d have to give it to school textbooks, the telephone directory and the Dublin Bus Timetable (ok, not that one). Therefore they obviously reckon that Bertie’s book is a work of fiction.

And the news that you can write fiction about Bertie and get tax-free dosh for it has attracted the attention of other authors, as these forthcoming publications show….

The Great Bertsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is the tale of a man of unexplained wealth who spends much of his time gazing at a light at the end of a dock, when he isn’t giving evidence in one. The story ends tragically when Bertsby is attacked in Tara Street Baths by a deranged man, or “loolah”, as he calls him.

De Damned United, by Nick Hornsby. The hilarious tale of Bertie’s brief reign as manager of Manchester United, where he turned them from being the envy of Europe (they were known as the Celtic Tigers, much to the annoyance of Celtic) into a second-division laughing stock. This was mainly due to his incomprehensible instructions to his players, and to his insistence on finding room for Ray Burke in his team. Mr Hornsby is working on another book, The Really Damned United, which tells of what happened next, when Bertie’s assistant Brian Cowen took over instead. As the team sank lower and lower he declares himself happy with their situation (“we are where we are”), blames everything on the rest of the world (“sure Real Madrid are shite too”) and then sells all his players off cheaply to new club Nama Academicals during the January transfer window.

The Secret Life of Bertie Mitty, by James Thurber. The story of a daydreamer who imagines himself as a great statesman, a socialist, a man of modest needs, a sports journalist, just an ordinary Joe. Supposedly funny, but actually just sad.

Celia Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. This tells the story of young Celia and her love for the powerful and mysterious Mr Ahern. Since he is already married in his heart to wealth, popularity and Drumcondra  the romance is doomed from the start, and all poor Celia gets out of it is the odd cheap house. She finally ends the relationship with the by now immortal line “Reader, I nutted him”.

An Odd Development

A cowboy

A cowboy

A development company called Kimpton Vale Limited has been fined €1,000 after it illegally demolished the 19th-century Presentation Convent on Terenure Road West.

It was demolished in November 2006, just two weeks after Dublin City Council began the process of adding it to the Record of Protected Structures. Bulldozers moved in to demolish the convent at 7am and by the time a council official arrived at 9.30am, so much had been razed that the remainder had to be demolished on public safety grounds.

In September 2007 Dublin City Council ordered the company, and its principal Laurence Keegan, to rebuild the convent. An Taisce were thrilled at the time.Their Heritage Officer Ian Lumley said “Dublin City Council have led the way in this regard, we welcome their decision to instruct the developer in Terenure to rebuild and we would urge other local authorities to follow their example”.

By December 2007, however, the company had ignored two opportunities to re-build it, and the Independent reported that it now faced “fines of up to €12.7m”.

Fast forward now to this Thursday in the Dublin District Court. Firstly, the charges against Laurence Keegan (who is currently disqualified from acting as a company director after he and another company he was involved with made large tax settlements with the Revenue) were struck out. This makes sense only if the judge believed that Kimpton Vale Limited is a sentient being with a mind of its own, and that Keegan had nothing to do with the decision to send the bulldozers in.

Then a solicitor for the company said “his client had been under the impression that an exemption from permission applied in this case”. Why, then, did they start the demolition at 7am? Did anyone ask the solicitor that?

And how did potential fines of €12.7 million become just one thousand euro? Why weren’t they made sell the whole site (which they paid €15m for) and fined the maximum possible?

This case says so much about regulation in Ireland. A bunch of people at the top bounce happily along, laughing down at, and holding two fingers up to, the rest of us, knowing they can do what they like and get away with it.

Kimpton Vale are now expected to apply for planning permission for the site. I’d say Keegan reckons it was €1,000 well spent.