Plus ça Change


From top: Former Anglo Irish Bank Chairman Seán Fitzpatrick leaves court yesterday; Dan Boyle

The first ever bulky report placed in my cubby hole, in the mail room of Leinster House, was from the Director of Corporate Enforcement, then Paul Appleby. It was an investigation into the activities of Ansbacher Bank (Ireland) Ltd.

Many of the details had already been leaked. The central allegations had been aired over several years. Even so the collective airing in one document of such a huge financial conspiracy, continued to shock and did nothing to alleviate public concern.

Over 200 people, supposedly prominent in Irish life were named. To be historically accurate and fair, few of these were directly involved in politics, none currently involved then. The nexus of labyrinthine financial mechanisms, created by Des Traynor, centred around the Guinness and Mahon bank and the boardroom of Cement Roadstone Holdings.

There was meant to be some satisfaction in the €120 million in unpaid taxes and fines that were collected. What never happened was any prosecution of any of the people involved.

Over the subsequent years, The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, through the tenure of several directors, has tended to be underresourced. This led the office to concentrate on smaller fry, having neither the resources nor the willingness to take on the bigger offenders. In Ireland the bigger the fraud, the less the likelihood of it being identified and, as such, of it ever being prosecuted.

Like most I look askance at the verdict passed on the Seán Fitzpatrick trial. I won’t quibble with the legal technicalities, I freely admit I lack the capacity to do so. Nor will I indulge in the hang ’em, flog ’em, throw ’em in the brig (I realise the order is nonsensical. That’s the point!) cravings that we all indulge in.

Seán FItzpatrick is ethically guilty of huge breaches of trust. He moved enormous sums of money between financial institutions, aimed at protecting his acquired wealth, and to create an impression that the institutions concerned were more financially sound than was actually the case.

In doing so, he undermined the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands. He was part of a group of a small number of people, whose actions helped put the economy of this country onto life support.

I am more saddened than angered, that these obvious wrongs cannot be legally recognised. That as a State we seem to lack the capacity, either through indifference or diffidence, to properly investigate or securely prosecute.

Our ongoing frustrations not only exonerates those who have failed us, it means we fail future generations for whom what has happened, can so easily happen again.

If it takes a new legal code, a new Constitution, or new methods to select a judiciary better grounded in moral imperatives, then we should be prepared to ask such questions. To continue to accept this form of Justice as She is Spoke, demeans us as a Republic.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursdyay. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle


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73 thoughts on “Plus ça Change


    “then we should be prepared to ask such questions”

    Wow, powerful, thanks for helping me think outside the box & find the courage to exact change, I didn’t know I had it in me.

  2. bisted

    …as usual…not a hint of culpability from a cheerleader for a party that was at cabinet during the Anglo era…

    1. martco

      yep…and most of us endorse it by continually voting for them every fupping GE innit?
      nice for the op to not descend into thoughts about what he’d like to do to the smiling c–t but I’m happy enough to daydream about what I’d like to happen to him…hopefully something very unfortunate comes his way in the future

      1. bisted

        …pity you are Dan fan because logorrea would be a fairly appropriate form of abuse for Dan’s weekly missives…

  3. Mourinho


    You, more than any anonymous poster like myself, were in a position to enact law as proposed by yourself above.

    Can you explain how or why this didn’t happen, and won’t happen?

    1. Dan Boyle

      Predictable enough response from some. As an individual I had small degrees of influence. Our main problems are culture and unwillingness to effectively use existing legislation.

      1. Cian

        Dan, this may be partially true. But you, as an individual (as a TD in 2007, as a Senator in 2017), have a *whole* lot more influence and power than Mourinho, bisted, any of the other BS commenters or I.

        Dan, in 2017, as a Senator. What *are* you going to do about this?

          1. bisted

            …also Dan…off topic…but who are you voting for in the UK election…will you vote in Wales or Belfast…or both maybe?

      2. nellyb

        “Our main problems are culture and unwillingness” – jayzus, same gibberish like Varadcovney’s on the campaign trail, are you for real??? :-)
        It’s not ‘culture’, it’s pure lawlessness and it’s not ‘ours’ – it’s yours, Dan, and whomever you’re hanging around with. We’re truly doomed here. Kids should definitely emigrate, there is no hope for them here.

    2. Nigel

      Probably because you can’t throw one small, inexperienced junior parry into government with a larger, older, more entrenched and experienced party and then wondet how come everything isn’t suddenly ok, and decide to give up and it’s all the smaller party’s fault. Or maybe you can.

  4. Repealthe8th

    Agreed Dan. Classic responses from some and says it all about Ireland.

    Dan was in the Green Party as the Minority Government with Fianna F”cking Fáil.

    Turkeys vote for Christmas so the Greens got decimated and the party that predominantly caused the crash? Voted into opposition awaiting their return to power to let Sean Fitzpatrick 2.0 (fully rebooted) get the economy booming again.

  5. scottser

    you hit the nail on the head there dan. you said you were sad, not angered. this is what’s wrong – we should be fupn angry. we should be fighting. it’s like the fighting irish don’t know how to fight anymore. what is it actually going to take to make us stand together against being bought wholesale?
    i am really fupn angry.

      1. Sheik Yahbouti

        Great, Dan. “I’m alright Jack”, so a flippant, facile response is all that poster can expect. It’s all just an intellectual exercise to you.

          1. Mourinho

            So what did you do when you had a chance?
            Serious question.

            You’ve also said people are unwilling.
            Who are these people?

          2. Dan Boyle

            We ensured that the Governor of the Central Bank was not the outgoing Secretary General of the Department of Finance. We insisted the Financial Regulator should be from outside the State. Twice, in 2009 and 2010, I spoke at the MacGill Summer School, stressing that without prosecutions public confidence could never be restored. We sought updates on potential prosecutions to be told they were ‘pending’. Given the separation of powers I’m not sure how otherwise it could be done.

          3. Mourinho

            Thanks for answering.

            “We ensured that the Governor of the Central Bank was not the outgoing Secretary General of the Department of Finance.”

            Good stuff. Well done.

            “Twice, in 2009 and 2010, I spoke at the MacGill Summer School, stressing that without prosecutions public confidence could never be restored. ”

            That’s about as useful as this post.

            So long.

          4. Sheik Yahbouti

            Told you Mourinho. Answer to a question you never asked, plus no answer to the question you have posed, twice. Mr Boyle is a true politician.

          5. Dan Boyle

            Which is why I usually avoid answering these questions. Rarely is the questioner looking for an answer. Public comment, often, is the only means available to public representatives to influence outcome. I apologise for not having the powers you ever thought I had.

          6. Mourinho

            Ah no apology needed Dan.

            I’m just trying to get my head around politicians in general.
            And I can see how public comment sometimes works.
            It’s been an effective tool for Flanagan, Wallace, Daly, etc. (sometimes)

          7. Mourinho

            “The voices you want to hear saying the the things you want said. I get that.”
            Now now, don’t be tetchy.

            Using Dail privilege they have exposed many unsavoury characters in public life.
            This has led to a few losing their jobs. Effective. Even without being in power.

            You got in some independent regulators.

            Both them and you deserve plaudits for playing your part where you could.

          8. nellyb

            I too have a very serious question , Dan – what is the effective mechanism of influencing government for politically unconnected people and without Cayman or whatever offshore accounts?
            Are you allowed/able to give a meaningful and intelligent answer to this question? Without tired unimaginative spin, like. Or is this post too angry for you? :-) You or your pals haven’t seen real anger, you’re like pat rabbitt, he gets upset and frightened before people even start speaking. Fun to watch though :-)

          9. Dan Boyle

            I was talking about Fitzpatrick’ ethical not legal wrongs. Being an ordinary Joe shouldn’t exempt anyone for avoiding tax. I refer to the €120 brought back.

        1. Dan Boyle

          Which is why I asked where has that been getting you? Then I get grief for not giving the ‘right’ answers to the questions I get asked.

          1. Harry Molloy

            No one on the internet or the Vincent Browne show is ever looking for an accurate answer Dan. They’re just looking for a reason to tear strips off ya

  6. Alan

    The vast majority of people just do not have the time to get involved. The only time I would get my say is at the ballot box. Being a working parent and working 50-60 hour weeks to pay the endless taxes and bills. I know I am one of the lucky ones and love my family but the only options I have is to vote for the status quo parties or a party that has not a hope of ruling because they are so left wing. All I want is a center right government that will rule and enforce the current laws of the land. That option is just not there. Its playing a game where the power line their own pockets and their friends and the cycle continues.
    Alan Greenspan promoted job insecurity when he was chairman of the Fed. This has trickled down throughout the world. He said it was one of the main reasons for growth in his times. I believe the consequences of this is that you have the masses completely overwhelmed that you cannot keep an eye on the people who have the real power. And how can we keep an eye on them when we are totally distracted by the sh*t media reporting. Why is their crap media reporting (not all crap of course) just look who owns them…..(thank God for Broadsheet). If I see one more Kim Kardashian, Meghan Markle or any other crappy news headline while the biggest arms deal ever made was going hardly reported from a country that was attacked by citizens of a country who they sold the weapons too…….. The world is just nuts.

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      Alan, extremely well said. The despair of the ordinary, struggling, person who hasn’t the time or the energy to regard politics in particular as a sport. We are in the main, civilised people. What we require is good and equitable governance. Where are we to find it? Yet poster after poster blames people for their poor choice. There is a dearth of meaningful choice. As to the media obsession with utter faeces – “ugh, I just can’t even, right now”.! :-)

        1. Alan

          I don’t blame celebrities. Maybe you lost my points or this is an attempt at bad trolling. Anyways best of luck. By the looks of it you will need it.

        2. Moderate THIS!

          Dumb ducking stuff though Alan all the same
          Lord Snowflakee may be boring but he’s not wrong

          1. Alan

            Ducking what? What stuff. Two comments from two individuals not saying anything. I made a comment as to why people do not engage in politics. I look at “Snowflake” and “Moderate THIS”….. great names ladies but instead of trolling try debating.

          2. Sheik Yahbouti

            Alan, they are the same troll with his multiple identities – don’t bother with ‘them’.

          3. I'm "alright" Jack. Mad Jack is on annual leave.

            Alan’s really angry isn’t he? I like his style

      1. Alan

        Should we change his name to “Funny Keane”…no no lets wait he is bound to be even funnier playing his next junior C game.

  7. Andy

    Your pros is off point on a number of items.

    – Ansbacher prosecutions weren’t pursued because the relevant tax act imposed a 10 year time limit on prosecution – most of the Ansbacher deceit occured > 10 years prior. And while you mention 200 high profile cases, there were thousands of other cases, regular joes from all walks of life, who opened bogus non-resident accounts to avoid DIRT resulting in the DIRT inquiry. Over €100mm was recovered of which at least half was penalties & interest.

    – Fitzpatrick wasn’t being prosecuted for misleading investors for moving money between Banks (presumably you mean the €7bn back to back deposit). He was prosecuted for not declaring approx €80mm in loans for personal investments to auditors. This would have had no impact on investor appetite. 3 other former Anglo execs were prosecuted for this and received custodial sentences.

    Always helps to be accurate.

      1. Dan Boyle

        I was talking about Fitzpatrick’ ethical not legal wrongs. Being an ordinary Joe shouldn’t exempt anyone for avoiding tax. I refer to the €120 million brought back.

        1. Andy

          Re the Joe Soaps comment. I was getting at the tone of your piece, which like almost every other piece on corruption, highlights corruption at the top. And thereby, by design or accident, absolving the little man, the man in the street, of being culpable in any way.

          This is blatantly false. Ireland, at every single level, is a nation of chancers. Politicians, public servants, private sector workers, bankers, borrowers (big and small), farmers, dole cheats, Gardai, estate agents, builders, GPs, retail workers, voters of shady politicians (the man from Tipp, the former man from Drumcondra, the guy from Louth, the scruffy guy from Wexford).

          There is no punishment in the courts for most people, not just white collar criminals – petty crimes (people appearing with 100’s of convictions), no material penalty for non-payment of anti-social fines, how many don’t pay their TV licence, non-compliance with water charges, full time air-bnbs, bogus insurance injury claims, open drug dealing in the city center, breaking red lights, encroaching on bike lanes, non-payment of mortgages/rent, illegal evictions/non-compliance with regs, “peaceful protest”, underage drinking.

          This is a culture, and it permeates every single part of Irish society.

          1. Moderate THIS!

            Superb stuff Andy. You’re not a “politician” like this gobspoo. Ex politician.

          2. Alan

            Oh yeah I get it….there is no ethical difference between the guy who chances his arm at petty crime and the guy who will cost generations to come. Brilliant counter argument Andy. Why don’t you pick up a few books and read. Noam Chomsky new book would be a starting point and work back from there. Your answer is a b*llshit answer and one that the current and past governments would like you to believe. I see who supported your posts and I have seen the crap they posted too and not just here. I call them the one statement crew. All talk no substance. Of course they will try to come back with a one liner…..maybe even two if we are lucky. You got to at least admire Dan to come on to this forum and try. I might not agree with everything but he has done way more than you and me put together to try and better society. But I am sick of these b*llshit ill-informed knee jerk counter arguments that resonates what the media wants us to believe that we are all to blame. Open your bloody eyes and read or watch what could be going on behind the mass media sh*te we are fed. There are plenty of well respected individuals commentating but we do not hear in day to day news. You are probably one of these lads thinking that terrorism attacks are going on because Muslims hate Christians…..well there is a deeper story than that too. Just another disappointing counter argument. Maybe I should have said -1. But seriously with all the crap we have been fed and the amount of people lapping it up without questioning… is so demoralizing.

          3. Andy


            You should’ve just responded “-1”

            Your post is poorly structured, makes poor assumptions, is off-topic, devoid of supporting examples and borders on the conspiracy theory.


            Elites bad, little guys good.

          4. Alan

            It was a rant. It was poorly structured. Something out of frustration when you listen to the same b**lshit response day in day out. “WE ARE ALL TO BLAME FOR THE CURRENT SITUATION”. You need to grow up. But even in a rant I would put my poor assumptions against you any day. I gave you a suggestion of world wide respected reading material and to work back from there. I had to start somewhere too. I would not just limit myself to the times and the indo like you obviously do. Try to wake up. You came out with an odd buzzword from the past and a spin from the newspapers as to who is to blame. I would put it to you that it is your mentality that allows the status quo continue. I appreciate that you at least you gave a lengthy response and I do respect that. Every been in a fight though when you have the cowards around ya telling you to keep going….watch this now :)… all I am asking is to open your mind and research. If you have researched I would love to compare findings.

  8. ollie

    Ohh it’s not my fault. They wouldn’t listen.
    Jesus Dan you are stooping to a new low with this piece of garbage.

    “I won’t quibble with the legal technicalities, I freely admit I lack the capacity to do so.”
    I’ll explain it for you Dan.
    Office of corporate enforcement deliberately understaffed by successive governments, yours included.
    Why? To protect the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick.

    “In doing so, he undermined the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands.”
    No Dan, his illegal actions affected millions. However it didn’t affect those on TDs pensions much, what is it these days €70k a year for you to do nothing?

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