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Archive for April, 2013

Go on, Michael, give ’em hell

TOUGH luck putting your faith in Jack O’Connor last week. I told you often enough: never trust a brother with a bushy beard. Jack has left you in a predictable pickle. Your Budget arithmetic is in tatters. Never mind, Comrade O’Connor will help you and the Labour Party to cook up a fresh fudge to sell to ordinary Siptu members. Within weeks, you will be able to reassure your masters in the Troika that Jack the Menace is really Jack the Pussy cat.

Leave Jack to the tender mercies of his members. Perhaps they will vote him out of office in due course. Jack is an insider, part of the establishment with a deceptive growl. I have a feeling that if you were a member of Siptu you would be voting for Jack.

Why do I say that? Because this week you will decide whether to vote for other establishment figures. On Wednesday morning at 9.30am the Bank of Ireland holds its AGM in Dublin’s Burlington Hotel.

Will you be there, Michael? You should be. You hold no less than 15 per cent of the votes on behalf of the Irish people. Go on, turn up, give the bankers hell. They have given you the run-around for long enough.

Perhaps you will be otherwise engaged? If you are, is there any chance you could sign over your proxy to me?

You still have until 9.30am tomorrow to exercise your proxy. I am available to pick it up any time today. As a small shareholder, who has lost 90 per cent of his money, I will be in the Burlington at the AGM anyway .

If you give me the proxy, I promise to vote AGAINST every single resolution. I assume that will be carrying out your wishes?

I have a suspicion that Ireland’s taxpayers would support opposition to the board’s resolutions. Yet I have an uneasy feeling that you are about to vote IN FAVOUR of them.

I am uneasy because for two weeks in a row I have asked you Dail Questions about which way you intend to cast the peoples’ votes on all eight resolutions .

On both occasions you have avoided answering. You have told me that “my department is in the final stages of its review of the relevant documentation. As previously stated, the ultimate voting decision will be based on the assessment of the best interests of the State and to maximise the return to the taxpayer of the funds invested in the Bank”.

Come on, Michael. Cut the crap. Follow your gut.

Wednesday provides the perfect chance for you to detach yourself from the bankers’ hook on which you are impaled. You are either on the side of the bankers or on the side of the people. Your vote on the resolutions will reveal all.

Elderfield heads for the hills

The directors are putting the champagne on ice down at the Court of the Bank of Ireland. Happy days are here again.

The Bank of Ireland has two reasons for celebration. First, the bankers’ bete noire , regulator Matthew Elderfield, has just announced that he is on the way out of Ireland. Second, BoI boss Richie Boucher’s old pal, Pat Farrell, has revealed that he is on the way in – this time to work as a super spinner for Boucher. The two guys are close: Boucher even attended a milestone birthday party for Pat a couple of years ago. Oh well.

The new broom is in retreat. The old guard is back. Elderfield, barely a wet day in Ireland, is heading home to the UK. Farrell, currently head of the Irish Banking Federation (IBF), has decided to give the Bank of Ireland the benefit of his talents, acquired during the property madness.

Farrell, who has spun so cleverly for Ireland’s bankers for nine troubled years, who spun so well for Fianna Fail as general secretary for six years, who even spun for the EBS for a spell, is now about to spin for the Bank of Ireland.

Bank of Ireland will be run by three of the old guard. Governor Archie Kane will be the titular head. Archie has made a bit of a name for himself since becoming Governor. He has now been twice stripped of performance bonuses, due to losses in the payment protection insurance (PPI) scandal at his last employer, Lloyds TSB. Boucher, a miracle survivor of Bank of Ireland’s property lending lunacy, remains chief executive. Farrell, ace banking propagandist and lobbyist during the bankers’ years of shame, will be the main link with the media.

And we wonder why Matthew Elderfield threw in the towel?

We should mourn Elderfield’s exit, not because he leaves having achieved so much, but because he leaves so much to be achieved.

Is there more to Elderfield’s departure than the bland statements offered last week? Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan’s and Minister for Finance Noonan’s responses to the shock news were tailored to reassure the markets.

Honohan affected no surprise: “Although it was evident to me that we were very likely to have Matthew with us for only a few years, it is sad that this period is now drawing to a close.”

Perhaps. But wait, Matthew was on a short five-year contract. He cut and ran after a mere three. A little puzzling with so much still to be done to clean up the banks.