AIB bonus scandal descends into panto farce


AIB's timing last week was poor. Announcing that they were going to pay 40 million euro in bonuses to the very incompetents that got us into this mess on the same day as the Dáil was announcing savage cuts to unemployment and family benifits, was definitely negative PR.

But since, we've been subjected to a pantomime style public back and forth between the bank and political figures. Can a publically-owned, bailed out bank, really be so crass as to pay out these bonuses? "Oh no they can't!" shouted the politicians, knowing when they were on to a good thing, pre-election wise. "Oh yes we can!" responded the bank, using that much abused alibi - "the courts made me do it".

So Brian Lenihan, after a week of seeing if they could win the shouting match, finally decided to call it by sending a letter to AIB saying that they were free to pay out the bonuses so long as they didn't want any more money from the state. AIB quickly responded with a statement that, of course when they said that the courts were making them do it and they had no choice in the matter, on reflection that wasn't true at all and they were glad the government had helped them see the light, as they'd really been opposed to the payout all along. Not even Jedward at the Olympia could match this yuletide farce.

But the real scandal is not the bonuses. 40 million euros would be a small price to pay to get rid of these undead vampire banks compared to the tens of billions of euros the ECB/IMF deal plans on extracting from the country as a whole in order to protect the 500-odd billion euros that UK, German, US and other foreign banks invested into the Great Irish Banking Bubble before it burst. Letting AIB go bust, even with the costs of the guarantee on deposits up to 100,000 would be a steal at fourty million.

Last week Lenihan went on the radio the day after budget day to demand "an end to this default debate". There's only one way the default debate is going to end - with a default. The only question is whether the debate is sooner rather than later. Given the damage that will be done by the debt-deflation spiral imposed on us by this vicious reparations deal - Ireland's Versailles treaty - it is the duty of all foresighted people to struggle for a default as soon as possible.

WORDS: Paul B.

Further Reading:  Why Ireland should default on the loan sharks now