Are the Fine Gael donors the bondholders?

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.