Byline: by Helen Rogers
WE are weary of this. The banking collapse has so far bled this country of over [euro]70billion and it has cost us our economic sovereignty as we doff our caps and bend the knee to the bailout boys. It has stripped us of jobs, of hope, of dignity and turned us into an angry, bitter and divided nation.
Yet still, reward for failure continues.
AIB lost over [euro]12billion last year. That was, in part, the legacy of both its previous managing director Colm Doherty and the chief executive he succeeded, Eugene Sheehy.
Mr Sheehy, you may remember, is on a [euro]529,000 pension, even after his role in the destruction of this once-great bank. Now we learn that his successor, a man the minister for finance at the time, Brian Lenihan, never wanted in the job, got a [euro]3million pay-off for the 11 months he spent at the helm.
Staff at the bust bank are rightly incandescent. Over 2,000 will lose their jobs. AIB's current executive chairman, David Hodgkinson, has said he hopes their severance terms will be 'generous'. Nothing, however, can be as generous as the Lotto-level windfalls our elite insiders constantly negotiate for themselves, whether they're up to the job or not.
Exit strategies for them always include financial cushions so large and apparently so legally watertight that, we are told, it is never worth the trouble of even challenging them.
We've now had three investigations into the causes of the economic destruction of our country. The sleeping regulator, the testosterone-fuelled, risk-taking top brass in the banks and the bonkers economic decisions taken by Bertie Ahern and Fianna Fail that incentivised the property bubble were all blamed in one way or another for carrying us over the cliff.
But not one single member of this group has actually suffered the pain that has been wrought on the rest of us as a result of their actions. None of these will ever feel the fear of not knowing how to pay the next electricity or phone bill, the humiliation of having to defer the mortgage, the iciness of leaving the heating off on a cold day.
Sure, Fianna Fail was trashed at the election. And yes, we have a new financial regulator and governor of the Central Bank, both of whom inspire some confidence. But real accountability, in terms of hitting where it hurts, is not something our elite classes do. Real accountability in this country is only for the little …