Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Have They Gone A Bit Mad in Cavan and Fermanagh, Ted? – Michelle Gildernew MP (SF) says Seán Quinn “is being punished for having the audacity to ‘buy the bank; and for being an ordinary man from Fermanagh”

with 4 comments

The Fall of the Seán Quinn Family Empire has angered many people in the bankrupt billionaire’s home county of Fermanagh and its near-neighbour Cavan, where a demonstration of over 4000 people assembled in Ballyconnell on Sunday July 29.

Supporters include the Sinn Féin Fermanagh-South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew :

 Even Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew has come out to defend the family, telling this newspaper that what has happened to Mr. Quinn was “wrong”.

“He has been treated disgracefully by the Irish Government. Had they not tried to strip him off all his assets, including his home, deny him the ability to function in business, and routinely try to humiliate him I believe he would have paid back every penny he owed to the Irish taxpayer.

“He accepted he had done wrong, but all our attempts to make the government show some comment sense were ignored. He is being punished for having the audacity to ‘buy the bank; and for being an ordinary man from Fermanagh who is hugely respected by his community,” she said.

The support hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Quinns who say they will be “forever grateful” to everyone in both Fermanagh and Cavan “who have stood by us as they have been doing for nearly 40 years now”.

Link to Story in Fermanagh Paper, the Impartial Reporter :

“He is being punished for having the audacity to ‘buy the bank; and for being an ordinary man from Fermanagh” – Michelle Gildernew MP, Sinn Féin

We invite readers to examine the the facts in the Seán Quinn case, which are damning :

What are the facts in the Sean Quinn case? – Jim Fitzpatrick, BBC NI

Fintan O’Toole does a good job attacking the Seán Quinn Supporters in the July 31 Irish Times, accurately targeting the hypocrisy of Sinn Féin :

He asks :

Why, for example, has Sinn Féin, supposed friend of the downtrodden, expressed its sympathy for Quinn (MP Michelle Gildernew tweeted her support)? Does it see no connection at all between his stripping of public assets and, for example, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin’s complaints about cuts at Cavan General Hospital? How can Sinn Féin demand, as it does, that no one should be paid more than €100,000 a year from public funds while apparently being content for the public to pay Karen Woods four times that?

The full article is here :

Support for shameless Quinn is misplaced

FINTAN O’TOOLE

Tue, Jul 31, 2012

TAKE ALL the money raised this year by the cuts in child benefit. And from cutting the school clothing and footwear allowance. And all the cuts to jobseekers’ benefit, rent supplement and fuel allowances for the elderly.

Throw in the restriction of one-parent family allowance to children under seven. Pile on all the cuts in back-to-education allowances and community employment schemes. Take all of that money from the pockets of the poorest people in Ireland this year and you still haven’t reached the amount Seán Quinn agrees he owes the Irish taxpayer.

This is nothing to do with the €2.3 billion he borrowed from Anglo Irish Bank to buy its shares. This is the €455 million he borrowed to buy property – using that property as security. In all the noise and distraction, this much is undisputed: Quinn borrowed the money and put up the property assets as collateral. The State, however idiotically, took over that loan. Since Quinn can’t pay it back, the Irish people now own those properties.

There is something else that is not in dispute: that Quinn is openly, flagrantly and quite proudly trying to hang on to this money that belongs to us. As he said on Sunday, he took a “very conscious decision” to do “everything in our power to take as many assets as we could”. The basic intention is very simple – to transfer assets from the Irish people to the Quinn family.

Thus, for example, the status of Karen Woods, a part-time receptionist with Joe Duffy Motors in north Dublin, as recipient of one of the largest public salaries in Ireland. The lucky Karen, then the girlfriend (now the wife) of Seán Quinn jnr, was paid €320,297 after tax (the equivalent of at least €400,000) last year by a Russian company whose assets belong entirely to the Irish people.

This is more than twice what the Taoiseach is paid, with the added refinement that there is no evidence of what work Woods does in return for this salary. Every cent she got, and every euro of the €455 million, is money kept from a State that is, for example, struggling to provide services for young people with intellectual disabilities.

At the same time, but completely separately, every Irish person or business who takes out home, motor or commercial insurance is having to pay the price, quite literally, for Seán Quinn’s mismanagement of his insurance business.

For at least the next 12 years, every time any of us takes out insurance, we will have to pay an extra 2 per cent to recoup the approximately €1.1 billion Quinn lost in his gamble on Quinn Insurance. Thus, even when we leave aside entirely the €2.3 billion Anglo loan, Quinn’s actions are siphoning €1.5 billion from Irish taxpayers, consumers and businesses.

All of this is easy enough to understand. It is underpinned by one of the oldest of human desires, the lure of other people’s money – in this case ours.

What’s more difficult to fathom is the collusion of many respectable people in what Quinn is doing. His shamelessness is made possible by those who tell him that he has nothing to be ashamed of, that, on the contrary, he is the victim in all of this.

Why would 4,000 people turn out in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, the other night to demand “justice” for the Quinns – though evidently not the kind of justice that would be meted out to someone who deprived the State of €4,550 instead of €455 million?

Why, for example, has Sinn Féin, supposed friend of the downtrodden, expressed its sympathy for Quinn (MP Michelle Gildernew tweeted her support)? Does it see no connection at all between his stripping of public assets and, for example, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin’s complaints about cuts at Cavan General Hospital? How can Sinn Féin demand, as it does, that no one should be paid more than €100,000 a year from public funds while apparently being content for the public to pay Karen Woods four times that?

Fr Brian D’Arcy, who is supposed to be in the morality business, addressed the Ballyconnell rally and essentially credited Quinn with the creation of peace in our time: “He brought peace to the country by creating thousands of jobs.”

Senior GAA figures such as Mickey Harte, Jarlath Burns, Seán Boylan and Colm O’Rourke threw that organisation’s considerable authority behind Quinn’s outright defiance of the courts and determination to hang on to public money. Thus, a formidable if unofficial nexus of Sinn Féin, the GAA and the church is giving Quinn comfort.

This desire to kiss the rod inflicting the pain is surely rooted in something older than the current fad for designer masochism – some twisted notion of ethnic and religious solidarity in which Quinn has to be protected because he’s one of us – a Catholic, nationalist, GAA man.

It can’t be imagined that our oppressors might go to Mass, wear open-necked shirts and support the GAA. But what can’t be imagined either are the silent victims in all of this – the poor who pay for their master’s gambles.

Link to Story in the Irish Times :

Support for shameless Quinn is misplaced

The Quinn supporters, buoyed the success of the Ballyconnell Demonstration, are thinking of “going for the jugular” and holding a protest in Dublin.

It is time for the fighting left to discuss constructive action.

We may be witnessing the birth-pangs of a new right-wing force in Ireland – the Quinn Dynasty has amassed a coalition of GAA personalities, prominent clergyman Brian D’Arcy, elected politicians Michelle Gildernew and the Fine Gael Munster MEP Seán Kelly, and Ryanair Boss Michael O’Leary.

Update 1 :

The well-named Fear Rua (Red Man) website – a forum for all things connected with the Gaelic Athletic Association – carries many contributions attacking the Quinn Dynasty, and mocking the GAA big names who marched with the Quinns last Sunday in Ballyconnell.

Here is a flavour :

Unbelievable stuff, now Seán Kelly and Jarlath Burns talking about the GAA family. Time for right thinking GAA members to dissociate themselves from this. Perpetuating a stereotype of GAA as being full of gombeenism, cronyism and ignorance.

Fear Rua Link :

GAA personalities supporting the Quinn Dynasty “in the twilight zone”

Less vigourous words have come from Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary-Lou McDonald “distancing” the party from the Quinn Dynasty :

Link to the BBC’s Jim Fitzpatrick Report :

SF “distances itself” from Seán Quinn

The two state party policy of opposing austerity from the left in the 26 Counties, while simultaneously implementing cuts within the 6 County Administration has hit a stone wall.  The Quinn Empire’s activities affect the states on each side of the border.

Will Sinn Féin run with the Gildernew hare, or hunt with the McDonald hound?

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4 Responses

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  1. “It is time for the fighting left to discuss constructive action.

    We may be witnessing the birth-pangs of a new right-wing force in Ireland”

    The above conclusions are exactly what needs to be said right now. Well done John, your best post.

    DD

    D_D

    August 1, 2012 at 9:08 am

  2. The following piece, as hard-hitting and, strangely, including a trade unionist point of view ,was snuck into the Cantillon column in the Business section of yesterday’s ‘Irish Times’ (31st July 2012):

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2012/0731/1224321154600.html

    “Quinn supporters should recall 2005 employment duties failure

    The thousands of local supporters and former Quinn Group employees who gathered to rally around Seán Quinn in Ballyconnell on Sunday would do well to remember an incident from 2005.

    That year, Fermanagh-based Quinn Cement was censured by the Labour Court, which found that the company had failed to honour employment commitments made earlier that year relating to sick pay, disciplinary procedures and the length of the working week.

    Siptu had taken the case on behalf of its members at Quinn Cement – most of whom were “confidential” union members.

    The court compelled Quinn Cement to implement a 39-hour week and to introduce a sick-pay scheme – hardly a radical request at a time when the group, and the country generally, was on the ascent.

    Seán Quinn is not what you’d call union-friendly.

    While some businesses within his colossal empire did recognise and engage with unions, such as his hotel businesses and some international divisions, on the whole the Quinn Group refused to recognise trade unions.

    Despite his reincarnation as some kind of Santa Claus figure by his supporters in recent months, it is worth asking how much of his enormous fortune Quinn actually shared with his employees.

    Of course, many would argue that this is not the job of a (once) successful businessman – rather it is to build businesses and look after the bottom line.

    Perhaps this may explain the somewhat curious cry of solidarity from comrade Michael O’Leary, who sent a letter of support to the Quinn rally on Sunday. As another executive who has become virtually indistinguishable with the business he leads, the Ryanair chief executive is notoriously anti-union. Indeed Ryanair’s landmark case against Impact – which had huge implications for how companies that do not recognise trade unions handle industrial disputes – dates from around the time of the Quinn Cement Labour Court case. O’Leary, like the Seán Quinn of yore, is an extremely successful – and rich – businessman. That’s where the similarities end. While Michael O’Leary continues to lead an extremely successful company, Seán Quinn presided over one of the biggest corporate fiasco’s in Irish history.

    Unfortunately that fiasco will be one for which the Irish State will be picking up the tab for many years to come.”

    In his column last week Fintan also explored another absurdity of the Quinn chapter, and expressly from a class point of view:

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2012/0724/1224320710402.html

    D_D

    August 1, 2012 at 9:26 am

  3. [...] very hard to understand the moral mentality of those people who took to the streets in support of this man and his business dealings and I can only attribute it , charitably, to a [...]

  4. [...] It’s very hard to understand the moral mentality of those people who took to the streets in support of this man and his business dealings and I can only attribute it , charitably, to a [...]


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