Monday, February 23, 2009
... or the government will fall.
Rumours have been rife for some time now of a Fianna Fail TD being a member of the so-called 'Maple Ten' investors who bought Anglo Irish bank shares with Anglo Irish's own money, pretty much unsecured, which then helped Anglo prop up their share price last Autumn.
Those rumours continually name only one TD - Frank Fahey (image courtesy of the ever marvellous Green Ink). Now, firstly it must be said that there is currently no evidence of wrongdoing by the Maple Ten. They haven't benefited from their investment since the bank was subsequently nationalised.
Secondly, I must also add that I have no knowledge of any of the ten investors involved. The Sunday Times has named four people they allege are involved and suggest heavily about the identities of two more. Frank Fahey's name is not among them, nor is that of any other TD, Fianna Fail or otherwise.
I am therefore not saying that Frank Fahey is involved in this, and even if it transpires that he is, that in itself is not currently evidence of any wrongdoing.
I personally see the identities of these ten as a sideshow. The real issue with Anglo is whether banking officials themselves were breaking the law, in relation to this deal which appears only to have served the purpose of propping up the share price and misleading the market, and also in relation to directors' loans.
There is a wider issue about whether the government, the regulator, or indeed the people of Ireland were misled when they nationalised Anglo Irish. And that issue is the most important of all, since that bank could now cost us - the people - over 5.3 billion euro in bad debts alone, never mind the piddling 300 million that these particular ten individuals have had written off.
But all last week in the Dail, Fine Gael, who may well have heard similar rumours as me, pushed the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance to assure the house that no government TD was involved in the ten.
And the Taoiseach offered such assurances.
If it subsequently transpires that Frank Fahey, or any other Fianna Fail TD, was involved in this contrary to the assurances of the Taoiseach, mere sacking from the party won't contain the anger of the public.
With a Fianna Fail Ard Feis next weekend, the Government majority party could possibly find themselves facing a very angry crowd of protestors anyway as they go for their annual booze up at CityWest.
How much angrier might that crowd be if it had emerged that one of the ten investors in Anglo was, contrary to the Taoiseach's assurances, a Fianna Fail TD? I genuinely think the government would fall as a result.
Fahey does attract ire in certain quarters. People are unimpressed with how he was involved in the Rossport affair at the outset, and some question his amassing of a massive international property empire at a time when he was expected to be representing those who elected him.
Therefore, it is now incumbent on Frank Fahey to come out and state categorically whether he was in any way linked to or involved in this investment, if he actually cares about his party, the government of which he is a member, and the nation at large.