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Archive for January, 2010

SFA No Small-Firm Saviour

SHOULD small business take to the streets? As public service unions gear up to damage the economy, small business — the backbone of Ireland — is being bled dry by the banks.

Credit is dead. Healthy outfits are being driven to the wall by the bucketful. Public servants have trade unions to bellyache for them. Small businesses have the seats of their pants, brass neck and hot sweat. Their oxygen is credit. But the oxygen ran out on September 30, 2008.

CIE Could Constipate an Actuary

AS I arrive at RTE’s hospitality room for the Frontline programme, there are only two people present. Pat Kenny offers the usual polite greeting while there is a freeze from the other man in the room. His face, or the small part of it that the world ever sees, looks familiar.

Pat’s companion bears a bushy beard. I recognise it. It has appeared in this column more than any other beard on God’s earth.

I blink and grasp the hand of Siptu boss Jack O’Connor, muttering gratefully that “we have never met”.

Let Patrick Lead the Probe

PATRICK Honohan has made a dream start as governor of the Central Bank. He is already gloriously offside with the Government, his patrons. Brownie points for Patrick.

Brian Cowen must be spitting blood at the governor’s call for an inquiry into what went wrong in the banks. Brian Lenihan’s protegee had poked the Taoiseach in the eye. Initially, Cowen politely rubbished the governor’s idea but it has gained legs galore as every day passes.

Patrick has begun a bit of a bandwagon.

It is probably slightly embarrassing for Patrick that all the opposition parties have joined his crusade. His demand for an inquiry has been politicised.

Taoiseach in all but name

BRIAN Lenihan was born to be Taoiseach. No, nothing to do with his pedigree. Lineage once gave you a leg up in Irish politics, but no more.

Of course, the finance minister is blessed with tribal bonds unequalled in Fianna Fail. Of course, his father Brian senior and grandfather Paddy were party icons. Of course, his aunt Mary O’Rourke is a priceless ally in Leinster House. And of course, his brother, Conor, is a minister of state.

Young Brian inherited a political birthright. His path to the Dail’s backbenches was a doddle.

After that, he was dependent on his wits; wits which soon revealed him as the brightest Lenihan ever to pass through the Kildare Street gates.

We say Goodbye… He finally left the stable — but not without his straw

BRIAN Goggin bade farewell to the marble halls of the Bank of Ireland 18 months early in February last.

As Bank of Ireland’s managing director he was the first of the big bankers to depart this year after a series of disastrous media outings. His response in an RTE interview that his pay package would be reduced to “less than €2m this year” rocked the nation and sealed his fate. It was an absolutely extraordinary statement from a man who had drawn €4m during 2007. (more…)