News Ireland daily BLOG update

Sunday 15th September 2013

Expelled parliamentary TDs and Senators hold meeting’s

The Reform Alliance photographed outside Buswells Hotel this afternoon. From left: Billy Timmons, Paul Bradford, Peter Matthews, Fidelma Healy Eames, Lucinda Creighton and Terence Flanagan. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times  

A group of TDs and Senators expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party have met in Dublin in advance of the new Dáil and Seanad terms.

Ahead of the think-in, former Minister of State Lucinda Creighton again insisted the Reform Alliance had no plans to form a political party.

Ms Creighton said that she was seeking to secure speaking rights in the Dáil.

She said the group had already had a couple of meetings, but that today was its first day-long meeting.

Ms Creighton said members would be discussing welfare reform, job creation, and the challenges facing the small and medium enterprise sector.

She added that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss new policy ideas and matters of concern to the Irish people.

Dublin North-East TD Terence Flanagan also insisted the Reform Alliance was not a new party.

He said he still wished to return to the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party.

Wicklow TD Billy Timmins has said the Reform Alliance will put down a motion in the Dáil calling for its members to be allowed sit on Oireachtas committees.

Mr Timmons said the group would be developing new policies over the coming weeks and months.

He said the Alliance would be calling for Dáil reform, adding that the group felt that all elected representatives should be treated equally and have speaking rights in the chamber.

On the Seanad referendum, Mr Timmons said the Alliance would not be adopting a group position on the issue and that members would be voting individually.

New Anglo Tapes revelation’s:  ‘We’ve f**king let the world down’


Anglo’s Bowe laments lack of dinner party invites while Ireland’s wealthy elite transfer €500 million in two days into Germany

A prominent British banker told Anglo Irish Bank Head of Treasury John Bowe that the banking industry had “totally fucking let the world down”, but it was politicians such as then Taoiseach Brian Cowen who would lose their jobs.

Mr Bowe replied “Yeah”, but added that the politicians in charge had to take responsibility for the crash because “you pay the piper, you call the tune”.

In fresh revelations from the Anglo Tapes, Matt Pass, a senior executive in Merrill Lynch, which advised the State on the bank guarantee, admitted he felt “quite guilty” about the banking industry’s conduct.

He said that what had been “handed” to politicians meant that Mr Cowen and then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown “are going to lose their jobs”.

However, Mr Bowe did not absolve politicians, telling the UK banker that “if he [Gordon Brown] did not have banks handing out credit during the New Labour years, people would not have spent money, the economy would not have been as prosperous”.

The Merrill Lynch executive also suggested to Mr Bowe, in a conversation in October 2008, that political leaders could have told the banks in the years before the crash that they “shouldn’t have been doing the kind of lending they were doing”.

But he added that if they had done that, “there would have been an almighty stink”.

In the course of only two days, the bankers speculated that Ireland’s wealthy could have put as much as €500m into Germany.

Mr Bowe also told Mr Moran how Anglo worked with Irish Life & Permanent to prop up its balance sheet.

“Permo [Irish Life & Permanent] were on to us, they were short a billion, em, and kind of caught short – it sounds like all the corporate stuff [deposits] has left Permo, so the Central Bank is obviously aware of that, but they got 300 [million] on Friday and they got another, I think it was 850 [million], today from us and we just have to see what happens, but they’re paying it back tomorrow, that’s the basis on which we did it,” Mr Bowe told Mr Moran.

“So it feels a bit better, Matt – I suppose that’s the best way of putting it – and in terms of our days, days to disaster, you can kind of stretch that, stretch that out, y’know?”

Mr Moran laughed before replying: “Yeah.”

Mr Moran hit the head-lines last week when it emerged he had been granted immunity from prosecution by the Director of Public Prosecutions for all matters relating to Anglo Irish Bank. He has previously featured several times in the Anglo Tapes, as well as in Anglo emails in which he refers to contacts during the crisis with then Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who he calls “Enda K”, and then Fianna Fail TD, Beverly Flynn.

In another recording, in April 2008, while talking to Anglo CEO David Drumm, Mr Bowe described Sean Quinn as “like a cancer, this is like a cancer growing on the bank”.

He said at this stage the bank was “in a spiral, and I want the spiral to go away”.

In another conversation around that time – a month after the bank guarantee – Mr Bowe is again talking to Mr Drumm, who is complaining that Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has made a statement about the importance of systemic banks. Mr Drumm claims that in doing so “he just made a balls of it. He killed us”.

Mr Bowe told Mr Drumm that Anglo (and Irish Nationwide) were not considered systemic banks – and therefore worth saving – because “we don’t give, pay people’s wages and have ATMs and do stuff like that”. Mr Drumm replies: “Oh, yeah, the cash out of the wall.”

Mr Drumm then suggested that the Government was “trying to kill us”. “I think they have been trying to force us into a tougher spot”… so that they could… “act under the Central Bank Act, y’know, to protect the stability of the system”.

New children’s hospital boss ‘will not tolerate medical politics’


Eilish Hardiman: (pic above) new CEO tasked with driving forward long-delayed hospital

The Health Minister James Reilly has said “medical politics” would not be tolerated at the new national children’s hospital, which he is confident will be built by 2018.

He was speaking after announcing that Eilish Hardiman has been appointed chief executive of the Children’s Hospital Group, whose task is to drive forward the long-delayed hospital.

Ms Hardiman previously oversaw the proposed development when it was due to be built on the Mater hospital campus but left to take over the running of Tallaght Hospital.

The new facility, for which planning permission has yet to be obtained, will see the merging of the existing children’s hospitals in Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght into one complex. It will be built on the grounds of St James’s hospital.

The row over where it should be built has already delayed its progress by many years and exposed deep divisions between the three hospitals which will eventually have to work as one.

Dr Reilly said the bad experiences of previous new hospitals – where existing facilities had merged – would not be repeated.

He did not specify any names but many of the problems experienced by Tallaght hospital were linked to the failure of the Adelaide and Meath hospitals to let go of their previous independence and work together.

Dr Reilly said there would have to be cohesion when the new complex opened. Asked about funding, he declined to say how much it would cost.

However, he said he was “absolutely committed” to ensuring it was funded and pointed to the indicators that Ireland was recovering. Some of the funding is due to come from the sale of the

National Lottery funding.

It will be early summer next year before a planning application is submitted and this will take another six months before a decision is made by An Bord Pleanala.

If planning permission is granted, the next step is to tender for construction companies to build the several-storeys-high complex – but it could be the end of 2015 before it is “shovel ready”. Building is likely to take three years, so it is not expected to be completed until late 2017 or early 2018 and it will then take more time to fit it out and make it ready to accept the child patients.

Dr Reilly said he was confident that lessons had been learnt since planning permission to build it at the Mater site was turned down.

People of major experience in the construction and building industry were now on the boards overseeing its development, he said.

Allsop & IMHO agrees a deal to prevent ‘unnecessary home repossessions’


Mr. David Hall of IMHO says a repossessed family home should not be put up for sale unless all parties agree

The Irish Mortgage Holders’ Organisation (IMHO) has secured a written agreement from Allsop Space that it will not offer repossessed family homes for auction in cases where banks have failed in advance to strike an acceptable deal with the properties’ former owners over their outstanding mortgage debt.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent following the conclusion of the deal last night, IMHO director David Hallsaid the commitment from Allsop would help to prevent the “unnecessary repossessions” while providing those who had to surrender their family homes with a “definitive outcome” that allowed them to move on with their lives.

Commenting on the importance of the deal, Mr Hall said: “It’s hugely significant that two weeks after the banks were before the finance committee 15,000 repossession letters went out. We’re saying there is a need for repossession, and some family homes will need to be repossessed and sold. But we’re saying the system should be changed, and for those properties where it’s agreed by advisers, the bank and the customer that the family home should be sold at auction or wherever; that prior to that auction, a full debt deal should be negotiated and an agreement reached with the bank.”

Asked what kind of debt deal the IMHO expected to be reached by distressed borrowers with their banks before their homes could be repossessed and put up for auction, Mr Hall said: “Once the hammer comes down on the property, there needs to be a definitive outcome. For residential family homes, under no circumstances should any home be sold unless it’s agreed by all parties that it needs to be sold in a voluntary manner and with a full deal done on the balance of the debt. There are circumstances, unfortunately, in the real world where family homes will need to be sold, but what we’re saying is that there are more sustainable solutions.”

Asked if the IMHO would seek a similar agreement from other estate agents and auctioneers, Mr Hall said: “We will be seeking an identical commitment from every single auctioneer throughout the country. We will be saying clearly that sales of repossessed family homes will only take place where everyone agrees that the property must be sold. It can only be done in ourview when a deal has been done on the entire debt by consent. Only then can it be sold. We want the entire deal to be triggered at the moment the property is sold when it is done by agreement.”

Mr Hall said in cases where that commitment was not forhcoming, the IMHO would publicly identify properties offered for auction where it believed that there had been a “reasonable alternative to repossession”.

Contacted by the Sunday Independent and asked for comment on its agreement with the IMHO, Allsop Space director of auctions Robert Hoban said: “We’ve had detailed discussions with the Irish Mortgage Holders’ Association and with David Hall and we’ve made a commitment not to sell any repossessed family homes defined as principal private residences. We understand the difficulties out there in the market and we understand that people have concerns. We as a firm don’t have any interest in getting involved in those kind of sales. We’re very sensitive about it.”

Exercise reduces depression symptoms


Exercise does appear to reduce symptoms of depression, new research suggests.

Around 120 million people suffer from depression worldwide, including 280,000 people in Ireland. Antidepressant medication and psychological therapies are both seen as effective treatments for the condition.

However, medication can cause unwelcome side-effects and not everybody has access to psychological therapies.

Exercise is also recommended for people with depression as it can change the hormone levels affecting mood and can act as a distraction from negative thoughts.

However previous research has found only limited evidence linking exercise with less depression.

As more trials in this area have recently been carried out, Scottish researchers decided to look into this further. They carried out a review of 39 trials involving over 2,300 people with depression.

In 35 of the trials, the researchers found that exercise had a moderate benefit when it came to depression. Furthermore a few small trials found that exercise was as effective as psychological therapy and taking antidepressants.

“Our review suggested that exercise might have a moderate effect on depression. We can’t tell from currently available evidence which kinds of exercise regimes are most effective or whether the benefits continue after a patient stops their exercise programme,” the researchers from the University of Edinburgh explained.

However, they acknowledged that the link between exercise and depression was weaker when they focused on six high quality trials.

“When we looked only at those trials that we considered to be high quality, the effect of exercise on depression was small and not statistically significant. The evidence base would be strengthened by further large scale, high quality studies,” the team added.


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