Tuesday, September 30, 2008


All my life I'd been led to believe that banks and those that worked in them were better than the rest of us. They were always correct and an admonishment for being overdrawn or not paying your credit card bill on time was like a metal ruler across your knuckles or moral disproval from a priest or rabii.

The events of the last few days have no doubt focused my mind and the minds of others that banks are not infallible and that those who run them can mess up like anyone else. But when you read the business pages and hear of city boys and girls in London being paid bonuses of six-figure sums, or chief executives of Irish banks being also paid such sums, it reinforces the notion that these people must have been on speaking terms with God.

No doubt in recent days these useless bankers must have been wishing they had a cellestial telephone line directly to God.

I remember having the temerity to ask for a student loan when I was 19 only to have to listen to the bank manager tell me "no" in 15 different ways for half an hour. I felt he got some kind of pleasure out of the experience.

While I completely understand US citizens' anger at how these overpaid crettins with their golden handshakes and skyscraper bonuses do not deserve to be bailed out, this morning's move by the Irish Government - though not without potential pitfalls - to guarantee Irish-owned banks was the right decision.

Firstly, it instils confidence, the rest of Europe may follow.

Ireland isn't of the same scale as the US or UK to have such financial meltdowns, but our objective to remain an international trading centre should stay on track.

The recent days may actually put us back on the road we should have stayed on. Wages may become more real and continue to attract investment, our corporate tax rate is still an important selling point and if the Government actually does stick through to the National Development Plan's infrastructural investments we may ride this crisis out and be in a position of relative strenght.

We lost our heads during the Celtic Tiger years, we became fat and bumptious with our SUVs, golf clubs in the sun and having to have a house bigger than our neighbour's.

That isn't Irish, that isn't what makes us special. What makes us special is having a clear head in a crisis, working our asses off and being honourable and charitable to those in need.

I read somewhere that the Irish used to rush to the sound of gunfire like salmon to the stream. In some ways we are a fatalistic people, but ultimately an optimisic one. We'll not only need clarity, optimism and realism in equal measure in the months ahead, but wisdom and fortitude.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

JK on how to make an entrance

After being harangued by friends of mine who are throwing a party to reply with darn RSVP so whatever system they are using gives them accurate numbers I sighed wearily in the office that I never, really, RSVP anyone.

Never RSVP

So when you do show up you create a cloud of confusion/consternation/relief/delight/anger

Or you get shown the door for the scamp that you are