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26 February 2009 Edition

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Time to name the 'Golden Circle'

THE news that the Garda has finally intervened in the Anglo Irish Bank scandal is welcome. But what took it so long?  The Garda should have been sent in when the Government received the Price Waterhouse Cooper report on the bank in October. After such a long time and the publicity surrounding the scandal, the likelihood of any incriminating evidence remaining at the bank’s headquarters is minimal.
As Tuesday’s raid was being carried out, details emerged of how a now resigned director of Anglo-Irish is still receiving fees of €28,000 of taxpayers’ money annually for sitting on two state boards. This perk from the public purse is more the yearly salary of many low-paid workers. Another resigned Anglo-Irish director receives €16,846 annually as Chair of the Dublin Airport Authority.
There is deep public anger at the greed and waste at the top of the Irish  financial  system, in upper echelons of big business and at the government’s response. This greed – in some cases criminal greed – was facilitated by the state’s political leaders and so-called regulators.
As the Health Services Executive (HSE) faces a shortfall of over €1 billion in 2009 we learn of the massive salaries and allowances at the top of the HSE, including €16,000 per month for an advisor to HSE Chief Brendan Drumm.
In its response to the downturn the Government has chosen to slash health and education services and this week imposed an unfair and possibly illegal public service pension levy, which penalises low and middle-income workers most. It is not even a pension levy because it is payable on all earnings and not only on pensionable salaries.  For example less than 5% of nurses and midwives actually get a full pension.
In a massive demonstration last Saturday, over 100,000 people marched on the streets of Dublin to demand fairness and equity in tackling the current economic crisis. Irish workers are willing to play their part in sorting out current economic difficulties but they will not stand for the discriminatory tax being imposed by the Fianna Fáil/Green government. Efforts to divide public sector workers from private sector workers must be rejected. Last weekend they marched side-by-side and such solidarity among workers must continue in the face of government attacks.
Meanwhile the Garda investigation into Anglo Irish Bank should now focus on the homes and properties of its former directors including Seán FitzPatrick and each of their bank accounts should be frozen. It is now essential that the  Government releases the names of the so-called ‘Golden  Circle’ connected with the banking scandal. Government claims that they cannot release the names for legal reasons are bogus as Dáil privilege supersedes any legislation in this regard. The fact is that the Government could name these ten fraudsters if they wanted to. They should do so immediately in the national interest.

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