Made it to City West… very quick drive up. Myself and Suzie are here in one of the press rooms. I will try and update this post as I go, as well as update on Twitter. You can follow everyone who is either here, or commenting on the Ard Fheis, at Scibble Live.
Just recorded this video of Cowen leaving. Media scrum etc. Somehow I ended up standing next to Mr C several times. You can hear his wife say “Ride the storm” near the start.
As I was saying on Twitter, there were two over-riding emotions while I sat watching Coughlan, Lenihan and Hanafin. The first was a lack of taking responsibility. The recession just happened. Fianna Fail were unfortunate enough to be in power and have to make the hard decisions. But there’s no sense that any of the problems the economy faces were caused by 11 years of Fianna Fail policies. The property bubble was the fault of the banks and “subprime” lenders; gamblers bet on assets increasing in value – but Fianna Fail have nothing to do with the current problems. I don’t buy it.
Second was the preaching. Watching many of the speakers, it felt like being at Mass. Sermons are delivered, and the faithful clap. More sermons, more clapping. Repetition about the current economic climate and international factors. Very little vision, and very little in the way of a sense of blame. Fianna Fail simply fell victim to global economic circumstance…
Second video of the Cowen exit. Best bit is
Johnny Ronan from Treasury Holdings. “Howya Johnny,” says Cowen, as they shake hands. Jaysus it’s Johnny Foley, a FF councillor. Head off each other!
15.45: Not much going on, thanks to a gap on speaking and some tea for the bloggers and journos. I’m feeling the effects of getting up at 6.45 this morning.
16.40: Dermot Ahern answers some questions for the press in the media centre at City West. Good questions on white collar crime. The sound quality isn’t the best at the start… apologies.
18.30 I just finished reading Cowen’s speech as it will be delivered later tonight. It feels like the usual stuff, but I guess it depends on how it is delivered. The biggest news to me is new banking regulation, which will be highlighted in the early part of the speech.
19.45 in the press area, waiting for the main event. Coughlan speaking now.
20.00 Tenors singing after an appearance by our former esteemed leader. *cough*. Fields of Athenry on now…
Cowen says he will create a new Central Banking Commission. Basically the Financial Regulator is being reintegrated with the Central Bank. A reversal of policy since 2002. They say they ill base regulation on the Canadian model. Followed by usual stuff about reform, independence and transparency. There will also be a new Head of Banking Regulation – with an “international reputation”.
Alongside this will be the Financial Services Consumer Agency. This will be a merge of the consumer division of the Financial Regulator and the Office of the Financial Ombudsman.
“This initiative will mark an end to a sorry chapter in Irish banking history,” says Mr Cowen.
The sorry chapter that was partly, or even largely, created by lacklustre regulation encouraged by successive FF governments. Most recently Ahern, McCreevy and Cowen have all allowed this situation to exist, despite advice to the contrary. McCreevy encouraged a light hand – and FF’s attitude to regulation is clearly evidenced by the lack of new laws, or resources, for the prosecution of white collar criminals after successive banking scandals. Despite dozens of warning signs, and wholescale fraud on the party of some of our major bank, nothing was done in response. No-one lost a job, not to mention sent to prison.
We will see what this new regulation will mean, but it strikes me as again moving around the deck chairs to dress it up as something new with a new name and a new logo. It will still be the same staff, minus the “international” dimension.
From Dempsey’s speech:
“The fact is, that a small number of sophisticated money manipulators endangered the economic survival of our people.
There’s not parallel in history for the damage they have done to this nation – except perhaps Cromwell.
And even Cromwell was motivated by reasons other than personal gain.”