* Bank executive comments spark widespread anger
* Deputy premier says complicating talks with EU
* Ireland wants bailout fund to recapitalise banks
By Sam Cage
DUBLIN, June 25 Ireland's deputy prime minister
laid in to "arrogant" executives at a failed bank who mocked
government efforts to tackle the country's economic crisis amid
growing public outrage at the latest revelations in tapes of
bank executive phone calls.
In the tapes published by the Irish Independent newspaper,
the collapsed Anglo Irish Bank's then-head of capital markets
John Bowe was asked how it had come up with a figure of 7
billion euros ($9.17 billion) for a rescue, responding that he
had "picked it out of my arse".
The bank eventually cost taxpayers some 30 billion euros
during the financial crisis, almost one-fifth of the country's
"We've had continuing negotiations with the ECB (European
Central Bank) and with European Union partners. What has come
out of these tapes doesn't make our job any easier - it makes it
more difficult," Ireland's deputy prime minister Eamon Gilmore
said on Tuesday.
"I mean the degree of arrogance, the degree of hubris, the
degree of couldn't-care-less-about-the-taxpayer, about the Irish
people, that seemed to be part and parcel of the culture of that
bank," Gilmore, attending a meeting in Luxembourg, said.
In Dublin the story dominated television and radio news for
a second day, with almost all national papers splashing the
story on their front pages.
"How come nobody's in Jail?" read the lead headline in the
"We need action... not your sympathy," said the Irish Daily
Mail, in an appeal to Prime Minister Enda Kenny, whose initial
reaction to the disclosures was to say he understood the anger
of the Irish people.
The Irish Independent released more details including Bowe
singing the German national anthem and laughing as he discussed
the prospect of German money flowing in after the guarantee on
"These guys in the banks lose billions and nothing ever
happens," said Noel Newman, a 78-year-old retiree in Dublin.
"On the tape they were laughing, joking. The way they said
it was disgusting. Unbelievable."
Many Irish, but particularly public service workers, have
had their salaries cut by 20 percent or more in order to meet
fiscal deficit targets as part of the loan guarantees for the
country's international bailout.
The unemployment rate has trebled since the crisis to 14
percent after the bank-and-land speculation property bubble
Bowe and the other executive, consumer banking chief Peter
Fitzgerald, said they regretted the conversation but denied any
wrongdoing or intention to mislead the central bank.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, in an interview with state
broadcaster RTE, described the duplicity of Anglo management in
their public and private comments as "highly unethical and
The 2008 blanket guarantee on bank liabilities led to an 85
billion euro ($111 billion) IMF/EU bailout and provoked
widespread anger in the country of 4.6 million.
Ireland wants funds from the European Stability Mechanism
bailout fund to help reduce its debt burden from bailing out its
banks, but any application will be decided on a case-by-case
basis and could be complicated by questions over the bailout.
The opposition has called for a full inquiry into the
collapse of the financial system and the timing has embarrassed
the government in the last week of its six-month EU presidency.
"The government must stop its mock outrage, establish an
inquiry immediately," said Pearse Doherty, a senior member of
opposition party Sinn Fein.
The bloc's finance ministers agreed last week that the ESM
will be able to help recapitalise banks that ran into trouble in
the past - which Ireland views as vital to shore up its finances
- but it will not give blanket permission for the funding.
Anglo, which was liquidated earlier this year, brought a
premature end to the political career of former Prime Minister
Brian Cowen, who was finance minister during the years of
reckless lending across Irish banks.
Three of the bank's former executives - not including Bowe
and Fitzgerald - will go on trial next year on fraud charges.
But despite all the disclosures, many voters remained
sceptical that the country's close knit elite would do what it
takes to bring friends of friends to justice.
"If it was any other country they would have been in prison
by now," health care worker Mary Mullerby, 62, said.
"White-collar crime is something you get away with in Ireland."