Dan White: The victim act won't wash -- where's the shame?
Disgraced former Anglo Irish Bank boss Sean FitzPatrick tells us that he feels "regret" but not "ashamed" for having bankrupted the country.
Which is precisely the problem. FitzPatrick and those like him who ruined this country still feel no shame for what they have done.
As chief executive and later chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, FitzPatrick presided over what will probably turn out to have been the most out-of-control bank not just in Irish but world financial history.
Here was a bank that even the Government now admits will end up writing off at least half of its loan book. It was largely the escalating cost of bailing out Anglo, now reckoned to be anywhere between €29.5bn and €40bn, that frightened the international bond markets from lending us any more money last autumn and led directly to last November's EU/IMF bailout.
At the very least you would have thought that having bankrupted the State and ruined his shareholders that FitzPatrick would at least feel even a smidgen of shame. Not in your life. Being Sean FitzPatrick apparently means never having to feel ashamed.
In a book to be published this week, FitzPatrick tells us that while he feels "very serious regret" about what happened at Anglo on his watch, he is not ashamed. Even worse he then goes on to portray himself as some sort of victim, saying that he was "an obvious scapegoat for the media and politicians".
What utter, self-serving crap.
Of course, long-time Seanie-watchers won't be in the least bit surprised. Wasn't this the same Seanie who refused to apologise during his now infamous radio interview with RTE's Marian Finucane in the aftermath of the September 2008 bank deposit guarantee by the Government?
Sorry Seanie. This notion of the perma-tanned spiv banker as victim won't wash. For the 22 years from when he first became Anglo chief executive in 1986 to when he was forced to quit as chairman in December 2008, Sean FitzPatrick was Anglo. There was nothing that moved in the bank without his say-so.
In his last 10 years at the helm, the Anglo loan book grew more than twenty-fold from just over €3bn to more than €70bn. Not alone did this build up huge problems for Anglo when the boom eventually turned to bust, it also destabilised the rest of the Irish banking system.
The irresponsibility of Anglo under FitzPatrick's "leadership" ruined the Irish banking system, bankrupted the Irish State, cost us our economic sovereignty and sentenced the Irish people to a generation of penury.
Most of us, but not it seems FitzPatrick, would feel thoroughly ashamed if we had presided over such a debacle.
Instead, Seanie goes into full whingeing mode, complaining that he "didn't deserve the punishment that has been inflicted on me" and "my whole social circle has diminished".
Gee folks, isn't that terrible. Some of Seanie's former friends don't want to be seen with him anymore. I wonder if FitzPatrick had persuaded any of them to buy Anglo Irish shares?
While FitzPatrick may be an extreme example, sadly his refusal to admit that he did anything much wrong is not unique. The Government that so carelessly extended the deposit guarantee, thus effectively turning bank debt into sovereign debt, has still to apologise to the Irish people, while most of Seanie's fellow-bankers have been similarly lacking in contrition.
These guys still don't realise just how badly they screwed up. Until they do, we won't be able to even begin to pull ourselves out of the hole into which we have been plunged.