Dan White: Anglo Irish still doesn't get it,we're paying the bill for their pay hikes
Do the bankers still not get it? Just when you would have thought that Ireland's bankrupt banks couldn't stick their size eleven feet even further into it, we learn that Anglo Irish, that taxpayer-sustained basket case masquerading as a bank, had paid "modest" pay increases to 70 of its staff.
News of the increases comes just days before Anglo reports its results for the 15 months to the end of December 2009. These are expected to reveal that Anglo has written off a further €14bn of bad loans and total losses of €12bn.
The publication of the results will demonstrate yet again just what a mess the bank is in. The latest bout of bad loan write-offs will mean that Anglo has written off €18bn in a bad loans, the equivalent of a quarter of its September 2008 loan book.
Were it not for the generous support of the taxpayer, losses of this magnitude would have sunk Anglo long ago. Last year the state had to nationalise Anglo and pump in €4bn of fresh capital. The results announcement is likely to serve as the cue for a further injection of government capital, at least €6bn and probably more.
And how does Anglo repay the debt it owes to the hard-pressed taxpayers of this country for saving its sorry ass?
Instead of being suitably apologetic or grateful, Anglo -- in one of those gestures that so completely misread the public mood as to lead you to suspect that bankers as a species all suffer from some kind of undiagnosed form of autism -- goes out and pays 70 of its 1,280 staff "modest" pay increases.
These increases come at a time when the public service is being convulsed by strikes and go-slows following the pay cuts imposed in last December's budget while most private sector workers who have kept their jobs -- 250,000 of them haven't been so lucky -- have also taken pay cuts.
That Anglo, a zombie bank that hasn't lent its customers a cent for well over a year and is totally reliant on the state for its very survival, should agree to pay increases in such circumstances represents a slap in the face for all taxpayers. Do these guys still not get it?
These pay increases indicate that Anglo, despite everything that has happened over the past 18 months, the Government's deposit guarantee, nationalisation, huge loan losses, the state bailout and last week's arrest of Sean FitzPatrick, is still divorced from reality.
The pay increases point to a state of mind bordering on the truly delusional.
Of course Anglo isn't alone. At least it only handed out pay increases to about one in every twenty of its staff. Last October AIB, another bank totally dependent on the taxpayer for its very survival, handed out a 3pc pay increase to all of its staff.
This was at a time when the Government had refused to pay a similar increase, which had been agreed under the 2008 pay deal, to most public sector workers.
We have tolerated the antics of our greedy, deluded bankers for long enough. With the state already owning Anglo outright and AIB likely to fall into majority state ownership in the next few months, it is high time that the Government began to make its presence felt.
Bankers, who are responsible for the mess in which we now find ourselves more than any other group, except perhaps politicians, must be made to feel the same pain as the rest of us. It is high time that this tribe of greedy, arrogant locusts was brought down a peg or three.