Christmas Greetings from Bono, Bob & the Banks



Although written in mid-November, this is from the December 2017 issue of Chicago’s ‘Irish American News.’



They’re worse than ever they were, the bankers; worse than ever.  More arrogant; more brutal; certainly more divorced than ever from their customers.

I personally think that a lot of it is that they were shown up as being no smarter than any of what they see as the peasants; and in most cases much, much less so.  On September 30th, 2008, the gutless Irish government bailed them out – under cover of darkness and with the Dail bar kept open until the small hours lest they become thirsty – and guaranteed through a bail-out the whole of their liabilities.  One would think that it would have put some manners on them.  After all, in theory we now owned the banks.

What a laugh that was.  They kept their heads down for all of two minutes and then, when it was obvious that no one was going to be answerable, back they bounced with more of an iron fist than ever.

The ‘tracker mortgage’ scandal goes on and on.  At the end of September of this year, some nine years after they made saps of us, Bank of Ireland have – under pressure, mind – come up with yet another 4,300 customers who were deliberately overcharged.  That is now 10,300 people who were harassed unrelentingly over a period of years.

Harassed and hounded and chased until many had their spirits broken and many more lost their homes.

And what do we get at the end of it?  We get Bank of Ireland telling us on November 9th that they will be writing to give those concerned ‘a range of options’.

A range of bloody options.  I remarked to a friend during the week that if someone had broken into one of their fine establishments and stolen money from THEM that the range of options would range from going to jail for theft to going to jail for theft.  This lady, whose opinion I normally respect, told me that my choice of language in calling them ‘thieves’ was unhelpful.

Unhelpful?  Really?  Well, I’m going to have a few sleepless nights over that! What else would I call thugs in suits who knowingly steal money from others but thieves?  You certainly don’t allow them to present you with ‘a range of options’.  Yet that is just what we are doing.

And now this week myself and thousands of other Allied Irish Bank customers saw drop through our mail boxes a casually dismissive letter that informed us:

“We are writing to tell you that we will shortly begin to send information about you and your borrowings to the Central Credit Register… We will report your personal and credit information as at 30th June 2017 and include information that we already have about you as:  your name, address, date of birth and information about your borrowings, if they are €500 or more.”

Check out that wording and that date:  you don’t even have to HAVE any borrowings; and this has been a done deal, in any case.

Perhaps my friend feels that we can trust these gougers.  Well, some years ago I wrote in another publication, and I think that it’s worth repeating:

“They were some gentlemen, just the same.  On the now-notorious Anglo Tapes that were released by the Irish Independent last week, these fine gentlemen spray the F-word around so much that it actually ceases to have any meaning whilst it operates as noun, verb, adjective and whatever you’re having yourself; and all the while these fine, fine gentlemen aren’t averse to throwing in the much harsher C-word as well.  If you were ever one of those sad sacks—and there were plenty around—who thought that a well-cut pinstripe loaned to the wearer a little class, then you found out how wrong you were, once and for all.

“You are all no doubt familiar with what was said at this stage, so I’ll confine myself to one comment from the charming David Drumm:

“’Yeah, and we’ll be saying: ‘Yeah because a stress, because HBOS were f****** sold and Lehman’s were bust and f****** Bank of America took over Merrill’s and other f****** non-normal things happened, you c***.’”

Hell, these aren’t even ‘smooth criminals’ that we’re talking about trusting our personal information with (and hoping that they don’t leave more laptops in the back of cars); these are foul-mouthed corner boys who have somehow gotten the idea that they are better than we are.  I went on:

“How, cry the bar stool philosophers, how did they ever get so out-of-control?

“And my answer is always the same:  it came to this because we LET it come to this.  It came to this because historically the Irish actually LIKE to be told what to do by people that they perceive to be their betters.  For years it was the Church, until they blew that one.  And then there were the politicians.  You knew that they were ‘pulling strokes’ and you actually admired them for it—well, until it hit YOU in the pocket and then you changed your tune.  You have always enjoyed doffing the cap to someone.  The bankers?  Well, look at the high-level job they have.  They must be fierce intelligent altogether.

“Personally I enjoy irony so I’d like to see Angela Merkel with the boots on and a scrotum-cruncher in hand whilst a naked David Drumm whimpers in the corner.  Hell, let’s be honest:  I’m past expecting Justice; I just want Vengeance and Payback.  And blood on the floor.  Lots and lots of blood.”

I’d like to tell you that I’ve mellowed since I wrote that.  Well, maybe just a bit; but the truth is that I’m still getting the hang of those ‘forgive those who trespass against us’ and ‘turn the other cheek’ sentiments.  Turning the other cheek has let these venomous banking slugs get away with too much as it is.

It doesn’t look as if I’ll get my wish, anyway.  It looks instead as if it is simply going to continue to be business as usual.

Still, it’s not been ALL bad news.  Sir Bob Geldof has caused hilarity and the creation of many jokes in hostelries up and down the land by handing back his Keys to the City of Dublin.  Thanks, Bob; now bugger off and don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

Also adding to the gaiety of the nation was Saint Bono getting caught with his hand in the Paradise Papers.  As I’ve said many times, what is annoying about the insanely wealthy lead singer with the U2 Corporation is not that he likes to avoid paying any more tax than he needs to; it’s the fact that he never ever stops to draw breath from lecturing the peasants on what THEY should do with their measly few Euros.

Fair Tax Mark commented: “Bono’s attitude is particularly hypocritical in light of his anti-poverty posturing.  Poor countries lose far more money from tax avoidance than they get in aid every year.”

Saints Bono and Bob giving us a good old belly laugh in the same week.  That’s my Christmas started early.

And may I take the opportunity to wish all of you a very happy and peaceful one also.  See you next year, hopefully!