The prosecution of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean
FitzPatrick eventually hung on a single phone call he had with the ex-CEO David
Mr FitzPatrick walked free from Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court last night after
he was acquitted by a jury on all counts of permitting illegal lending to the
so-called Maple 10.
The 65-year-old, who was earlier cleared by direction of trial judge Martin
Nolan of permitting illegal loans to the wife and five adult children of
businessman Sean Quinn, was found not guilty on the Maple 10 counts just after
Judge Nolan had directed acquittals on the Quinn loans due to a lack of
Outside the Criminal Courts of Justice, Mr FitzPatrick thanked his family and
friends who supported him over the last six "difficult" years, his legal team
and the jury who had deliberated for 13-and-a-half hours before returning a
majority not guilty verdict.
There was a profound, dignified silence in courtroom 19 as the
jury acquitted "the face of Anglo", Sean FitzPatrick.
The jury verdict was a stunning outcome for Mr FitzPatrick and his legal team,
led by Senior Counsel Michael O'Higgins.
Mr O'Higgins, an award-winning fiction writer and former journalist, was one of
the star protagonists of the Anglo trial.
Steeped in the art of storytelling from his early days at the law library –
where he juggled his devil's duties with freelance shifts at the Irish
Independent, RTE and 'Magill' – the lawyer delivered a closing speech to the
jury that colleagues privately remarked was "a near perfect 10".
Mr O'Higgins, best-known for his criminal defence work, engaged in frequent,
heated exchanges with various witnesses as well as trial Judge Martin Nolan.
Brendan Keenan: I wonder, do they read the popular press down in those think tanks? Or do they
just devour raw data, like Alan Greenspan in the bath (much good it did him). If
the boffins who prepare the annual OECD report on taxation ever look at the
Irish newspapers, they must be tempted to have another look at their data.
The steady drone of complaint about Irish taxes being unfair, or too high,
appears to come from a different country than the one portrayed in the OECD's
'Taxing Wages 2014', published last week.
The obvious reaction is to dismiss the complaints about tax as media whingeing.
But, as is usually the case, the press is onto something. What exactly it is
onto is not easy to discern, and even more difficult to explain. And the more
one discerns, the more troubling the question of the Irish tax system becomes.
Michael Noonan has given the clearest indication yet that he will
endorse Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher's €843,000 pay package at a
shareholder vote next week.
It would be a sharp turnaround from last year, when Taoiseach Enda Kenny warned
bank chief's to expect pay cuts.
Now, however, the Finance Minister has said he doesn't believe he can abstain
again this year in the vote on the pay of Bank of Ireland chief Richie Boucher
at the lender's AGM.
He told TDs and senators that the bank's activities had managed to enhance the
value of the State's shareholding and that there had been cost reductions across
the lender following the review of pay practices at the banks by consultants
Family doctors risk losing their existing under-six
medical card patients if they fail to sign up to the Government’s plan to extend
GP care to all under-sixes.
The legislation approved by Cabinet yesterday
provides for the extension of free GP care to 240,000 children aged six and
under, in keeping with a commitment made in Budget 2014.
However, the proposed legislative framework will
cover all children, including those already holding medical cards. After the
legislation is passed, GPs will be presented with a revised contract covering
their provision of care for all children aged under six.
Temple Bar is a travesty of what it was meant to
be when this flagship urban renewal project in the centre of Dublin was first
conceived in 1991. Then, the aim was to develop the area as “a bustling
cultural, residential and small business precinct that will attract visitors in
The underlying message was that Temple Bar would become a vibrant “cultural
quarter” – Dublin’s version of Covent Garden in London or Soho in New York,
without their high property values. That was why many decided to buy apartments
there, including myself.
Instead, it became the “temple of bars”, largely thanks to Temple Bar Properties
(TBP), the State company that acted as its development agency – it was directly
involved in the creation of four megapubs and in the facilitation of many more,
by failing to draw the line.
Anyone could get a full licence merely by developing a hotel with a minimum of
20 bedrooms and then install a large bar on the ground floor, a nightclub in the
basement and perhaps a chill-out area on the roof. And all of this was done with
the benefit of tax incentives.
Huge drinking dens
As a result, the area is now dominated at night time by the licensed trade.
Small neighbourhood pubs such as Flannery’s (reborn as the Temple Bar Pub, the
most photographed in the area) were transformed into huge drinking dens
extending to nearly 1,000sq m.
The Government has pledged to introduce a second
free preschool year before the end of the decade under a new policy framework
aimed at improving outcomes for young people.
It is one of about 160 policy commitments in
Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures , a national policy for children and young
people aged up to 24 years. They include mostly broad objectives such as
improving supports for parents, focusing more on earlier intervention and
prevention; and fostering a culture that listens to and involves children and
While many of the goals are aspirational and do
not contain funding commitments, Government Ministers said the principles would
help ensure the best use of public money in the service of the State, its
children and families.
Wexford accountant Alan Hynes has said he never
misappropriated or diverted funds invested in property projects with which he
Mr Hynes (45) said he was “struggling to explain”
how the full €8 million that had been put forward by investors for a project in
Dundrum, had not shown up in accounts.
He was responding to questions from PJ McDowell,
chairman of a tribunal investigating allegations against Mr Hynes made to the
Chartered Accountants’ Regulatory Board (Carp), about an apparent shortfall of
€1.4 million in the accounts associated with the deal.
The suggestion that Nama should be wound up early has been criticised as
playing politics with the largest financial institution that the state has ever
Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesperson Michael McGrath accused the Government of
contemplating winding up Nama in order to score political points before an
“The temptation for the Government is very clear — to go before the Irish people
at the next election and say ‘we have got rid of Nama’. In opposition, the
finance minister was an arch critic of Nama.
“He now seems to be of the view that it is doing a very good job and he has even
directed that any unsold IBRC assets would be transferred to Nama. While I
welcome the minister’s Pauline conversion in support of Nama, commercial
decisions are best madeby the agency and not by its political masters,” he said.
Euro Topics: The Ukrainian army on Tuesday
commenced its announced offensive against separatists in the east of the
country. The Russian leadership responded by warning of a civil war in Ukraine,
and threatened to torpedo the planned talks in Geneva. But Moscow is speaking
with a forked tongue and taking advantage of the escalation, commentators write.
Lavrov lying to the world: Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned on
Tuesday of a breakdown of the talks in Geneva if the Ukrainian government uses
violence against the separatists in the east of the country. He is speaking
with a forked tongue, the conservative Czech daily Lidové noviny comments:
"Lavrov says the use of violence in Ukraine's domestic conflict is unacceptable.
In plain language that means: when pro-Russian militias use violence it's
entirely logical, because Kiev is incapable of and unwilling to protect the
interests of the Russian-speaking population. But when the Ukrainians react to
their violence with violence, it is unacceptable and in violation of
international norms. ... At the same time, Russia rejects Ukraine's invitation
to UN observers, who embody the international norms to the highest degree. Why
is Moscow against the proposal? Because the Russians are the ones who are
violating international norms, and Minister Lavrov is nothing but a liar."
What the Kremlin really wants: The Kremlin is trying to help enforce the
rights of the Russian-language minority in eastern Ukraine, Dmitri Trenin,
director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, writes in The Financial Times: "The
Kremlin is often accused of fomenting instability in Ukraine as a pretext for
invasion. In reality, Russia's main objective is to help the country's
Russophile southeast to assert itself and create a new political balance within
Ukraine.... Ukraine is a large and complex country. Ukrainians are not Russians,
as Mr Putin will have to admit. They are not 'one people', even among
themselves. But equally, not all those who reject a narrow version of Ukrainian
nationalism are Russian agents."
Ridiculous punishment for Berlusconi:
Italy's ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi will serve his sentence for tax
fraud by performing community service. A court in
Milan ruled on Tuesday that he is to work four hours a week for almost a year in
a home for the elderly and disabled. And Berlusconi still has the cheek to cast
himself as a victim of justice, the left-liberal Italian daily La Repubblica
comments indignantly: "Four hours a week, 16 hours a month, 168 hours in total
spread over a period of ten and a half months. That is the result that [as
Berlusconi puts it] the 'politicised judiciary', the 'cancer of democracy' has
dared to impose on the Anointed One. ... This is the outcome of the 'war' that
the despised 'wearers of red robes', the 'servants of the communists' have waged
against the statesman of Arcore. The sentence is ridiculous. ... The fact that
Berlusconi hasn't been sent to prison despite his serious offences at least
serves to prove that the Cavaliere's fairytale of being a victim of justice is a
Balancing act by new Socialist leader:
The French Socialists elected Jean-Christophe Cambadélis as the new interim
first secretary of the party until the next party conference in 2015.
Cambadélis had long been seen as a prime contender for the post. The regional
daily La Montagne writes that he will have just as hard a time as the new Prime
Minister Manuel Valls: "To some extent this former Trotskyist has become the
Valls of the Socialist Party. Because there are many parallels between the two
political climbers, and the way they clinched the jobs they'd long been eyeing.
Like Valls, Cambadélis will have to execute a unifying strategy without becoming
a yes-man. If he wants to stand a chance of remaining in this job, he must
perform a balancing act and defend a grassroots stance that is increasingly at
odds with the office of the president. ... Cambadélis is running a big risk.
Valls and 'Camba': it's the same 'combat'!"
The Gothenburg model: Work less, achieve more: The city of Göteborg has
agreed to let the staff at a care home for the elderly work six hours per day
instead of eight, for the same salary. The aim is to reduce the number of
staff that take sick leave and thus cut costs. The conservative Polish daily
Rzeczpospolita praises the project: "The Swedes have rightly recognised that the
number of work hours does not automatically reflect the efficiency of the work.
... According to an OECD study the Greeks work on average 2,000 hours per year,
while the Germans work 1,400. But the Germans are 70 percent more efficient.
Consequently the number of hours worked is not decisive. What's important is
good work organisation. And when the staff are well rested and satisfied, they
work better as well. Unfortunately many employers haven't yet understood this."