Bank of Ireland (UK) plc

In July a statutory instrument (S.I. No. 358/2010) was signed by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, bringing a company called Bank of Ireland (UK) plc under the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act 2008, otherwise known as the bank gurantee scheme. This is curious on a number of levels, and could be entirely innocent, but is nonetheless worth looking a little into.

Bank of Ireland (UK) plc was incorporated on September 17, 2009. Richie Boucher was appointed a director in March 2010, and it appears to have commenced business on April 1. Its most recent director appointment was on July 14, 2010, when Laurel Powers Freeling, the former chief executive of Marks and Spencers, was appointed.

Five days after the appointment of Freeling and a Robert Walker, Brian Lenihan signed the SI that brought Bank of Ireland (UK) plc under the guarantee. A number of questions arise, which I believe are fair to ask, given the level of support given by the State to Bank of Ireland.

What is the purpose of Bank of Ireland (UK) plc?
Why is Bank of Ireland establishing a new UK company at a time when it is supposed to be increasing lending in Ireland?
What is the renumeration of the directors of Bank of Ireland (UK) plc?

As I said, the purpose of establishing the company might be entirely run of the mill – I’m just posing the question.

Digest – August 29 2010

Right, it’s back properly now. Honest.


P O’Neill with another thing the press misssed or miss-interpreted.

In short, the Irish example of debt reduction as cited by M. Trichet is dodgy.  Yes there was debt reduction, but it wasn’t done by spending cuts, it wasn’t sustainable, and its achievement was symptomatic of deeper structural (and political) problems in Ireland.  And we’ve leave that parenthetical comment for a long in-progress future post on Irish political economy.

Karl Whelan has one too.

Economist obituary to the piper who invaded Normandy. Via John Naughten.

ANY reasonable observer might have thought Bill Millin was unarmed as he jumped off the landing ramp at Sword Beach, in Normandy, on June 6th 1944. Unlike his colleagues, the pale 21-year-old held no rifle in his hands. Of course, in full Highland rig as he was, he had his trusty skean dhu, his little dirk, tucked in his right sock. But that was soon under three feet of water as he waded ashore, a weary soldier still smelling his own vomit from a night in a close boat on a choppy sea, and whose kilt in the freezing water was floating prettily round him like a ballerina’s skirt.

Gerard Cunningham; Changing times.

Anthony Sheridan; why Ivor Callely scares the body politic.

Veronica McDermott on; The lucky 11. On the taoiseach’s Seanad nominees and Ivor Callely.

Splintered Sunrise; The Birmingham Three, the plot continues to thicken.

WORLD Continue reading “Digest – August 29 2010”

'Work for dole'

Sunday Times political correspondent, Stephen O’Brien, provides some facts…

The government plans to put thousands of dole claimants to work in their communities and cut off welfare payments from those who refuse to take up the jobs. Eamnon Ó Cuív the social protection minister, will employ up to 10,000 dole recipients over the next four months, providing childcare, working with sports clubs and on environmental tasks, such as improving forest and mountain walkways as part of a bid to break the cycle of long term unemployment and to disrupt the black economy.

The follow-up by RTÉ refines it slightly

The participants are expected to work in areas like after school services, childcare, services for older people, environmental projects and in the improvement of sports and tourist facilities.

The proposals would see participants work 19.5 hours a week and receive around €210 in return.

To begin with you have to wonder how the department of social protection will find several thousand dole recipients with the garda clearance, qualities and abilities to work in after school services, childcare and services for older people within four weeks. As people have said today already, there is a six-month wait for Garda clearance at present. Anyway, that’s logistical question, it doesn’t consider the social impact of workfare itself. Continue reading “'Work for dole'”

Department of Foreign Affairs Expenses data 2009

As previously mentioned I am converting expenses data sent to me in PDF form back into spreadsheets. 2009 is the first. You might notice some missing data in the last few rows of the 13,388 claims – I will remedy this later this evening – sometimes the conversion process is a bit wonky. The database contains €1.65m of expense claims for 2009.

You can look at the data on Socrata or download it from there

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This is the same figures broken down by payee, in order of size of total expense claim:

And the same under the mileage heading:

And a bar chart showing mileage claimants:

And a pie chart showing in what categories expenses are claimed:

And the spreadsheet for categories:

An email or two from the Fás file

A month or so ago we’d a story in the Sunday Times about Fás. It involved a Mr Terry Oliver, whose company, OSK, had been found to be “consistently successful” in winning Fás contracts. The headline read ‘Fás in new cronyism row over lease’…

FAS, the state training agency, is renting a warehouse from the former tax partner of a consultancy firm which has been “consistently successful” in tendering for work from the agency.

Unit 9 at Tolka Valley business park in Finglas, north Dublin, has been rented since 2000 from Terry Oliver, formerly of OSK, an accounting and business consultancy. Internal audits have concluded that Greg Craig, the former head of corporate affairs at Fas, had a conflict of interest in awarding contracts to OSK because of his close personal relationship with Oliver.

[…] According to documentation obtained under the Freedom of Information act, the Finglas warehouse was to be used to train apprentice plumbers and electricians. It appears no-one has ever been trained there and instead it has been used for storage or left empty due to concerns about it meeting planning standards. The rent is more than €40,000 per annum.

You can read the story as it ran in print here.

During that investigation we obtained about 600 printed pages of emails containing correspondence between individuals we believed to be of interest. I mean neither to imply nor state that anyone did anything wrong, I just think some them are worth a read.

Here’s one snippet from May 2009; Greg Craig emails Terry Oliver with a copy of this press release

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Ms. Mary Coughlan, T.D., has today (Thursday 14 May 2009) confirmed that the 3,067 construction trades apprentices currently standing redundant will be able to progress their training towards qualification through a number of special measures this year, providing a capacity for in excess of 3,600 redundant apprentices…

And adds…

See below that should sort out Mr REDACTED. I am making a call also.


And another one from August of the same year; Greg emails Oliver with an email attached from a Mr Oliver Egan, a Fás employee.

The correspondence – with the subject line; ‘Finglas’ – from Mr Egan reads;


Apprentice will be given repeat & the services of an instructor — Bernard Bird -— to assist him. The other instructor will be found more suitable duties.



Mr Craig forwards this email to Terry Oliver saying, simply…




Might post a few more if I get time to re-read them over the next week.

"Ain't got no place to lay your head?…

… someone came and took your bed?

Don’t worry, be happy”.

The Economist have a piece on Irish banking out today.

Headline: “Money pit: Ireland’s banking mess – Austerity is not enough to avoid scrutiny by the markets”.

Anyway, we should be looking on the bright side, lads. The ECB will buy the rest of the bonds too.

“A’int got no cash to make you smile? Don’t worry, be happy now.”