Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Are the Fine Gael donors the bondholders?

Fri 11 November 2011, 12:34am

Fine Gael won’t reveal who fund them or the identity of the bondholders who received a $1 billion payout last week. With a further unsecured, unguaranteed, bond due early next year and some major cuts coming in the December budget, surely it is time for Fine Gael to come clean about the identities of it’s donors?

The ban on corporate fund-raising by the party was lifted when Enda Kenny took over as party leader. Since then, the party has managed to build up significant financial resources through a series corporate events, such as private golf classics where, amongst others, developers  who are in NAMA, builders and the CEOs of failed financial institutions get to tee-off with senior politicians. Donation levels are conveniently set just below the declarable limits and the events themselves are off limits to the press. As a kind of defence, Fine Gael would obviously point to the famous Galway Races tent operated by Fianna Fáil.

As Matt Cooper warned Enda Kenny last year:

How can Enda Kenny slag off the relationship between FF and property developers now and cast aspersions on the idea behind NAMA, as he has done so often in the past, now that we see how he behaves in semi-private? 

Last week the government led by Fine Gael, with it’s un-named financial backers, authorised the payout of a $1 billion to un-named bondholders. There are, however, growing (and striking) discrepancies between the party’s pre-election manifesto and it’s subsequent actions when in government (see a recent accounting of them here by Eamonn Keane in the Indo). Keane is very scathing over the performance to date:

Despite the spin, we know the cuts in interest rates for our ‘Bailout’ came solely from the Greek crisis. For how long can Enda blame Fianna Fail and yet accept praise for what amounts to Lenihan’s decisions?

Enda’s poetry was evident in the Fine Gael election manifesto. No easy payments to Anglo, and bondholders would be burned. Yet though strictly not part of the agreed deal with the Troika, you are still paying off the senior bondholders. Enda and co are bowing to Europe in the hope of a better deal. Maybe time will prove them right.

Another manifesto promise was mortgage interest relief. What happened to that? Enda and co honour their commitments to the EU-IMF, but you? Well, you’re down the list.

Another dimension that is overlooked here is the role Fine Gael’s political partners in the EU played in the Irish general election. Prior to the election, Enda Kenny was perceived as being a weak link in a contest which was his party’s to lose. To counter this the party did two things in particular. Firstly, it didn’t let him be interviewed by the likes of Vincent Brown or Matt Cooper, whilst others, like Ivan Yates admitted that they were only allowed to ask specific questions. Secondly, to build up a better statesman-like profile, it had him pictured with various colleagues in the European People’s Party, including Angela Merkel and Jose Manuel Barroso, supposedly using his relationship with them to re-negotiate the Republic’s parlous finances into a more positive position. We now know that the latter project succeeded in casting Kenny in the right light and helped lead his party into government. But it bore no fruit from the EPP connections beyond helping to elect a pliant party into government (which should surely set off alarm bells).

So, before they start paying out more unsecured and unguaranteed bonds, do you think it is high time the public were told who are the secret donors that could well be holding political bonds in Fine Gael? For all we know, they could be those same unsecured, unguaranteed bondholders.

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Comments (21)

  1. you can’t base a post with such a link baiting article on pure conjecture

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  2. John Ó Néill (profile) says:

    Want to be more specific? If Fine Gael don’t reveal their donors, then what else is there but conjecture? Or are people not supposed to ask?

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  3. Alias (profile) says:

    There is bribery involved in these euro-serving decisions but it takes the form of the EU bribing the citizens of the member states with their own money.

    The government bailed out all bondholders, secured and unsecured, because that is the policy of the EU and the government’s role is simply to implement it. It isn’t required that bondholders should bribe governments: it is only required that Ms Merkel should be aware that her banks are the most overleveraged banks in the world and that default could make real a systemic risk that would return her economy to its pre-WW1 level.

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  4. but what has that got to do with bondholders?

    you can’t write a hail mary article like this,i thought slugger o toole might have standards

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  5. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    “Fine Gael won’t reveal who fund them…”

    I think you’ll find that Fine Gael will reveal who funds them as much as any other party will reveal the same – in compliance with the relevant legislation.

    What gaps that legislation allows is a different matter. And for more than just Fine Gael.

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  6. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    As for the question in the post title.

    Well, the general rule of thumb is that any such question in a post title is answered in the negative.

    But then, as for any of the parties concerned, including Sinn Féin, “For all we know, they could be those same unsecured, unguaranteed bondholders.”

    Prove otherwise.

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  7. PaulT (profile) says:

    John, would it be worth it!! surely Fine Gael wouldn’t risk handing money (unnecessarily) to bondholders just because they donated to the party, TDs would be lynched if it ever became known, can’t see it.

    However, there has been a lot of speculation on this over on P.ie and there must be a reason for happily handing over the money.

    Pete

    ““Fine Gael won’t reveal who fund them…”

    I think you’ll find that Fine Gael will reveal who funds them as much as any other party will reveal the same – in compliance with the relevant legislation.

    What gaps that legislation allows is a different matter. And for more than just Fine Gael.”

    You wouldn’t be hinting at SF there eh? maybe slugger should investigate…whoops sorry they have……repeatedly…every day

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  8. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    My only problem with the thread is that it invites people like Zig, to make an unqualified and probably illegal leap to a conclusion he’s now been ‘pinged’ for.

    PaulT,

    Pretty much all of them. No one can be above the kind of suspicion John invites, if they cannot transparently prove they hadn’t.

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  9. PaulT (profile) says:

    Again to say Mick, I do feel there is a lot more behind the decision to pay the last lot of cash to bondholders, guessing not naming them is part of a deal or even potential deal ie

    ie its to UK banks and part of HMG’s conditions of their loan

    OR

    to be part of the best bit should the Euro split in two

    but same as the OP its all guesswork

    “Pretty much all of them. No one can be above the kind of suspicion John invites, if they cannot transparently prove they hadn’t.”

    Yes Mick, but the way things work is that you have to prove guilt, not innocence

    another avenue to explore is risk management, if the public found out the bondholders were backers of FG would the amount of money possibly donated outweigh the potential outcome

    IMHO, no, I think they’d be more unelectable than FF are at the moment, so they’d have to be mad to get into that situation.

    Yes, but Mick, without wishing to go off topic, that statement is disproved by

    I’d suggest that there is an alternative to

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  10. John Ó Néill (profile) says:

    Mick – the real question is obviously the last one: can a government party who hold corporate fundraisers that are clearly legal but which are carried out in a way that aren’t transparent then make unobligated payments (e.g. the bonds) and then severe sectoral cuts without the need for proper disclosure of (or proper public debate about) who is paying/donating to them in private?

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  11. Abu Mikhail74 (profile) says:

    That question needed to be asked and it’s hardly John’s fault that FG have provided (as is their legal right) no answers.
    To my mind, the govt. has given no convincing explanation as to why such an enormous sum, all of it taxpayer’s money, was handed out when the nation had no legal or moral obligation to do so, beyond the usual claptrap about ‘reputation’ and ‘retaining confidence’.
    This is money that isn’t there for schools, isn’t there for hospitals, isn’t there for virtually any project that would benefit ordinary people. It’s gone and more will go in February.
    We are entitled, indeed obligated, to employ Cassius Longinus’ maxim: CUI BONO?
    In other words: FG need to prove to the rest of us that this isn’t a question of ‘mate’s rates’. Libel bedamned, Mick.

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  12. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Abu,

    Let me be very clear, I’m not saying John should not have asked the question.

    Just that the more foolish among us may be tempted into asserting that the imaginary answer is proof enough in itself.

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  13. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    PaulT,

    Agree with most of that, but I don’t follow that last…

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  14. Abu Mikhail74 (profile) says:

    Mick, well put.
    ‘The more foolish among us’…
    Okay, but we need a believable explanation and FG are not providing it.

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  15. PaulT (profile) says:

    Sorry Mick, blonde moment. I was going to ask, at what point do we accept that something is actually ”transparently prove(n)” I think its when people get the answer they were looking for all the time, SF, MMcG and GA spring to mind as ‘victims’ of this.

    I suspect it might be part of an agreement to lower Irelands bailout interest rate if they pay on time (and in full)

    But hey, it as a truely crazy world at the mo, so anything is possible, and FG have had dodgy dealings in the past on Party finances

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  16. Jimmy Sands (profile) says:

    It’s important to maintain the distinction between a question mark and a cavuto.

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  17. FF facilitated the payout of plenty of bondholders prior to their ejection, since many bank bonds came due in that period. Are we to assume donations were in play there? I don’t understand the linkage being made. We know much of the holders of the $1bn bond (via Guido Fawkes) were foreign institutions.

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  18. 2 +2 isn’t 5 john o’neil

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  19. governments do what governments do it doesn’t have to be about specific donations, that would be just too simple.

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  20. John Ó Néill (profile) says:

    Ok. I’ve obviously been too subtle with this.

    - Political party raises large sums from corporate events and uses the system to keep identities secret.

    - Same party gets into government and makes systematic u-turns on pre-election promises (e.g. see the Eamonn Keane article linked above for a rough inventory).

    - How can you make a reasonable analysis of the influences on decision-making without knowing who the party’s donors are (and assessing if or how they may have benefitted)?

    Despite the checks and balances of declaration of donations, it is not a transparent system.

    @Mark – try googling “Fianna Fail” and tribunal (plus Mahon if you need to narrow the search)…

    ps Mick – look on the bright side – the thread title may be a bit leading, but the original innocently asked about Fine Gael and bondage (until I actually thought about it when I was sticking in the tags)…

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  21. Are the Fine Gael donors the bondholders?

    this is what you heading is, i think you’d have more respect for the seriousness of the situation not to post such a linkbaiting headline, which only disappoints, unless had something to base it on, rather then throwing two things up in the air.

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