Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Bankers - Shane Ross

Christmas bought us a raft of books on the recent collapse of the Irish economy, one of which was "The Bankers: How the Banks Ruined the Irish Economy". The author, Shane Ross, is an independant senator for TCD, who has always questioned largesse in the Irish economy. As business editor of the Sunday Independent, he has seen it all and was the 2009 winner of the Journalist of the Year award for his investigations into the shennanigans at the state agency FAS.

In The Bankers, Shane Ross investigates the history and actions of all the various factions involved in the recent meltdown. He takes us through the story of key players such as Sean Fitzpatrick (Anglo Irish Bank) and Michael Fingleton (Irish Nationwide) who both acheived phenomenal growth at the helms of their respective institutes. The actions of the supposedly independent Financial Regulator, headed by Patrick Neary, did nothing to control the increasingly reckless lending promoted by the Irish banks.

The story gets more intriguing and gripping as Ross brings us towards the climate. The retelling of how the new Finance minister, Brian Lenihan, dealt with events is illuminating and surprisingly personal.

Ultimately, upon finishing the book, I was gripped with the dual emotions of both anger and helplessness. Anger at this shambolic mess the country was driven in, and helplessness, as a normal person, in the face of such collusion. It is all too evident from Ross' retelling that a cabal of bankers, developers, politicians and mandarins was always the most powerful force in the country, rather than the elected govenernnent, or the people.

Ross is clearly passionate about the events that have unfurled in the country, and while this is apparent in his writing, he also tells the facts as they are. Read The Bankers, and be prepared to get angry.

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