You may recall former director at EBS Building Society Ethna Tinney’s evidence at the Banking Inquiry.
During her opening remarks, she said:
“I have never had a relationship with any member of the Government, nor the Oireachtas, nor the property sector . I do not golf, do not visit tents at racecourses and am not invited to dinners. But my sense, as a citizen of Ireland and as a director of EBS for nine years, is that there is a deeply unhealthy relationship between all four.”
Ms Tinney is now a Trinity College Dublin Seanad candidate.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, in the middle of a vast ocean, there was a beautiful little country called Angerland. There were many Angrish tribes, who mostly rubbed along well enough together, but there were three superior dangerous Porcine tribes.
There were the Sharps, the politicians who danced in and out of government. They were all the same, apart from a few genuine idealists who never got into power. Then there were the Sharks, who managed the banks. And then there were the Great White Sharks, who disguised themselves as property developers.
The Sharps carried on a comedy for decades, which both amused and exasperated the Angrish. When Sharps were in opposition they hurled abuse at those in power. When they got into power they did exactly what the previous government had done.
The Angrish didn’t understand why, because they didn’t fully realise that these three Porcine tribes all had their snouts in the same trough and therefore the trough could not be overturned.
Angerland enjoyed a decade of prosperity and the Great White Sharks saw an opportunity. With the help of the minnow Sharks and the Sharps they created a property boom and blighted a lot of the beautiful Angerland countryside.
Homes were built all over the country that were miles away from towns and cities so that the citizens had to spend hours in their cars going to work, bringing their children to school, and even going to the shops, because there were none nearby.
The Angrish who owned property were delighted as prices rocketed and they considered themselves millionaires because of the equity in their homes. But it was very hard for people who wanted to buy a home for the first time.
These people had to take out huge loans from the banks, which made the Sharks very happy, because the more money they lent out the more money they themselves got paid at the end of the year.
Even better, they had no responsibility for ensuring this money would be repaid to their banks, so they were in the best of all possible worlds.
More and more Angrish had to rent because they could no longer afford to buy a home, which pushed the cost of renting sky-high.
So the lucky ones who had lots of equity in their homes started to buy houses to rent out to their less fortunate countrymen. Gradually, these lucky ones became enmeshed in debt.
The Great White Sharks knew that this bubble was going to burst, so they outsmarted the Sharks, and indeed dazzled them with the prospect of gigantic bonuses, by borrowing shedloads of money for projects which they had no intention of developing.
Instead, they salted this cash away for themselves and when the bubble burst their money was safely tucked away in tax-havens across the ocean.
In turn, the Sharks outsmarted the Sharps by persuading the government to guarantee their banks to the last cent with the taxes of all the Angrish.
The Sharps were dismayed when they discovered later that the banks were insolvent, a fact the Sharks had kept carefully hidden. But it was too late.
Years of recession and austerity ensued, during which the poorest and weakest Angrish suffered the most. Many of the Great White Sharks went across the ocean to the nearest island and got themselves declared bankrupt, even though they were rolling in cash.
They wanted to be sure that no-one could take their ill-gotten gains from them, and rather than perceiving this as a disgrace to themselves they considered it a badge of honour that they belonged to the greatest of the Porcine tribes.
The Sharks never apologised, and insisted on keeping their gargantuan salaries, even though they had proved to be not smart at all.
Indeed, so satisfied were they with the havoc they had wrought they set about wreaking more by repossessing the homes of the people who lost their jobs in the recession.
Wringing their hands all the while, the Sharps allowed them to do this which incensed the Angrish so much they threw out the government and put in a different lot, who proceeded to behave exactly the same as the last lot.
Homelessness and heartache devastated the land.
So the Angrish suffered on, until luckily by serendipity, the economy began to pick up, which eased their pain somewhat, but not the pain of the homeless, nor of the heartbroken.
What happened next was truly remarkable.
A new property bubble began slowly but surely to grow. The Great White Sharks returned to throw fuel on the fire, and they were so dangerous that they even frightened the Sharps into giving them more taxpayer money in the form of grants so that they could make more cash for themselves.
Of course, they lived happily ever after, but what became of the Angrish?
Previously: An Education
Thanks Sarah Ní Riain