Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The second War of Irish Independence?

In the sense that the sky hasn't fallen on them yet again, and nobody has dumped them in a load of pig-slurry, the Fianna Fáil-led Irish government has had a good referendum campaign. In large part that's because the opposition parties, bar Sinn Féin, are on side.

So, it looks as if the Yes team will take this one. Perhaps even comfortably.

To add a bit of spice to the closing days, Brian Lenihan, the Minister for Finance, has gone ape. The story seems to go like this:

Declan Ganley took a trouncing in the Euro Elections in June. He then flounced out of politics:
Conceding defeat tonight, Mr Ganley said: “I will not be involved in the second Lisbon campaign, I’ve said that upfront. I’ve got to get back to work,” he said.

“I sought a democratic mandate and I didn’t get one, and that’s how democracy works. And as I said I can take no for an answer.”
It was, of course, merely
a pale imitation of Tricky Dicky Nixon circa 1962: which is irrelevant here, but always worth a gloating revisit:

Ah, the old ones are the best ones.

Then Ganley was back; and this time he was really mad:
“It’s anybody’s right and privilege to change their mind,” he said yesterday. The Yes side were asking the Irish people to change their mind on Lisbon. “I didn’t want to re-engage in this debate. It wasn’t something that I relished.”

But he continued: “This isn’t about me, I’m not important in this. This is about Ireland’s place in the European Union . . . it’s about my country, a country that I love and it’s about standing up for the truth when people are telling huge lies, and the truth does not require a mandate.”
Actually, there's a bit there that's debatable. Ganley's country, a country that he no longer loves, was the Hertfordshire Gaeltacht. His wealth came from trading in Russian aluminium and timber, with a side-line in emergency and military telecomms. He took one beating in the Albanian Ponzi-funds based on privatisations, and another when his Irish on-line trinkets business went belly-up.

Somehow, his vanity vehicle, Libertas, started to be underwritten by London hedge funds. Back to Brian Lehihan, who:
told a press conference in Dublin that “one of the main backers of Mr Declan Ganley, who has lately taken up the cudgels against Lisbon again, is a London-based hedge fund which could hardly be described as being interested in the economic wellbeing of this country.” In fact, “quite a number of these hedge funds have taken out specific bets” on the insolvency of Ireland , Mr Lenihan said.
Swift choking intake of breath: no Borough Treasurer, no Company CFO, and certainly no Minister of Finance, anywhere in the world, at any time lightly even whispers of possible insolvency. This is reaching for the big red nuke button.

What confirmation there is for Lenihan's blockbuster comes via the UK Electoral Commission's website. This showed Crispin Odey had divvied up £3,000 in cash and £13,964 otherwise to Libertas:
It also lists contributions to Libertas of £10,000 from an Adam Fleming and £25,000 from Richard Carss. Mr Carss is a director of Mauritius-based MCB Investment Management and a manager with London-based Genesis Investment Management.
Odey has previous political form:
Hedge-fund Boss Crispin Odey has threatened to move his firm out of Britain to avoid the 50% income-tax rate on high-earners...

“We are seriously considering leaving,” said Odey, who runs the £3 billion Odey Asset Management. “This government is not interested in keeping London alive as a financial centre. Hedge funds are not yet flying but they are fluttering. Everyone is thinking about leaving.”
There's also the curious business that:
he had added £28million to his personal wealth in a year that his £3billion fund management group had been among those short selling the stocks of failing banks - notably Bradford & Bingley.
It would, of course, be invidious to note that Odey's wife, another banker, just happened to have been on the board of Northern Rock, with -- doubtless -- insights into other boardrooms. Odey is co-treasurer of the Tory Party (which may be relevant here), and believes Britain is going to hell in a handcart:
Foreigners have been busy selling gilts and the Bank of England busy buying them. The answer is that if you carry on, that is called Zimbabwean and that is monetisation. Probably we are going to have a visit to the IMF.'
Obviously Mr OIdey reckons himself an authority above mere national governments.

Adam Fleming, also mentioned in that report, is a gold bug. He made his name with Fleming Family & Partners, and was up to his neck in South Aftrican Harmony Gold, conveniently bailing out shortly before Bernard Swanepoel hit the wall. Mr Fleming, though, sailed magnificently on, with a new venture, Wits Gold, and heavy investment in property in Johannesburg. A true son of the oul' sod.

There also seems to be a South African connection for Richard Carss, through MCB Investment Management, which operates out of Mauritius. Another Irish patriot, then.

One thing is clear: the Brits have been happily mucking around in the fray of the Irish Referendum. So let's hear it from Mr Nigel Farage of UKIP, and another made man (well, he made £2m over 10 years out of EU expenses, on his own admission) of the City of London mafia:
"We have really stirred things up with the leaflet delivered to every Irish home," he said.

"There were protests outside the venues I was speaking at when I was over there and people were getting very hot under the collar.

"But the EFD Group is really making inroads for the 'No' vote supporters and the result of the Irish referendum is certainly no foregone conclusion."
Now, why do some people not recognise the 1922 settlement?
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