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The Quinn Issue August 1, 2012

Posted by Garibaldy in Capitalism, Crime, Sinn Féin.

I was going to just stick a link to this piece from Sluggerotoole in the Open Thread, but remembered Joe’s point yesterday that if things continued the Quinn issue could do with its own thread. So here we are. Mick Fealty quotes the following from the Irish Times

Mr Quinn’s bluff and bluster attempts to convince a sceptical public that he is more sinned against than sinning have failed to impress. He has sought to cultivate a sense of victimhood in order to exonerate himself and to blame others for mistakes and misjudgments of his own making. In doing so he has managed to sound like a fool while acting like a knave.There can only be one winner in all this. And from what we have seen so far, it will not be Mr Quinn. Speaking truth to power can require moral courage.

Speaking truth to Mr Quinn is the best service that his friends who hold his best interests at heart – not least those in the GAA – can and should now provide.


1. Roasted Snow - August 1, 2012

These comments are from both sides of the divide in Enniskillen re; Quinn. Gives you an idea what people are saying on the ground in Fermanagh. The IR would originally have been a unionist publication but much more liberal now.


Roasted Snow - August 1, 2012

Time for the SP in Enniskillen to counteract this **** in the local media. Or/and WP but not sure if there’s a branch there now.


2. EamonnCork - August 1, 2012

It’s the same oul forelock touching shite you get in Tipperary about Lowry. Nothing new or different about it.


Garibaldy - August 1, 2012

Lowry is exactly the comparison I was thinking of. Tom French was Party President at the time, and summed it up well when he said something along the lines of needing to change an attitude where corruption was seen as ok as it was getting one over on them ones up in Dublin.


3. RosencrantzisDead - August 1, 2012

Adam Smith wrote about factory owners and those who live by profit inflaming their workers to resist the breaking of monopolies or to advocate for policies favourable to their particular employer, even though these policies may be contrary to the general interest of society as a whole.

Marx, obviously, had his own take on the same theme.

Quinn, and the support for him, is wonderful, home-grown, example of this. Many of the people involved are or have family employed in the cement works or the insurance company. Many are concerned about their job security. Quinn, to them, is standing against the ‘establishment’ who want to make them redundant.

This is ripe for a sociological/economics study.


4. Saor Uladh - August 1, 2012

Re-pasting this from another part of the CLR- it should be given prominence

The following piece, as hard-hitting and, strangely, including a trade unionist point of view ,was snuck into the Cantillon column in the Business section of yesterday’s ‘Irish Times’ (31st July 2012):


“Quinn supporters should recall 2005 employment duties failure

The thousands of local supporters and former Quinn Group employees who gathered to rally around Seán Quinn in Ballyconnell on Sunday would do well to remember an incident from 2005.

That year, Fermanagh-based Quinn Cement was censured by the Labour Court, which found that the company had failed to honour employment commitments made earlier that year relating to sick pay, disciplinary procedures and the length of the working week.

Siptu had taken the case on behalf of its members at Quinn Cement – most of whom were “confidential” union members.

The court compelled Quinn Cement to implement a 39-hour week and to introduce a sick-pay scheme – hardly a radical request at a time when the group, and the country generally, was on the ascent.

Seán Quinn is not what you’d call union-friendly.

While some businesses within his colossal empire did recognise and engage with unions, such as his hotel businesses and some international divisions, on the whole the Quinn Group refused to recognise trade unions.

Despite his reincarnation as some kind of Santa Claus figure by his supporters in recent months, it is worth asking how much of his enormous fortune Quinn actually shared with his employees.

Of course, many would argue that this is not the job of a (once) successful businessman – rather it is to build businesses and look after the bottom line.

Perhaps this may explain the somewhat curious cry of solidarity from comrade Michael O’Leary, who sent a letter of support to the Quinn rally on Sunday. As another executive who has become virtually indistinguishable with the business he leads, the Ryanair chief executive is notoriously anti-union. Indeed Ryanair’s landmark case against Impact – which had huge implications for how companies that do not recognise trade unions handle industrial disputes – dates from around the time of the Quinn Cement Labour Court case. O’Leary, like the Seán Quinn of yore, is an extremely successful – and rich – businessman. That’s where the similarities end. While Michael O’Leary continues to lead an extremely successful company, Seán Quinn presided over one of the biggest corporate fiasco’s in Irish history.

Unfortunately that fiasco will be one for which the Irish State will be picking up the tab for many years to come.”

In his column last week Fintan also explored another absurdity of the Quinn chapter, and expressly from a class point of view:



Joe - August 1, 2012

I saw that in the IT yesterday and was quite taken aback. The IT business section standing up for employent rights and trade unions!


CMK - August 1, 2012

There was an even more unbelievable piece the day before which defended the Fixed Term Workers Act; stunned I was to see a piece of reasonably worker friendly legislation being defended in the IT. Indeed, the guy who penned the piece noted pointedly that the Irish Times’ editorial position was that it should be abolished as a ‘burden’ on employers. Could it be that with a new business supplement to fill every day the IT editorial crew have to cast a wider net and are willing to run the risk of hauling in a few contributors who are willing to express, very politely, some elements of dissent from the anti-worker stance of the IT?


5. Saor Uladh - August 1, 2012

This was also posted by D_D on other thread-
‘The left, not always so articulate, or well placed, in its response, might now do what so obviously needs to be done: organise a big public meeting on Quinn in Dublin.

And I’m not talking about an SWP meeting in Cassidys or a Socialist Party meeting in Wynns, but a ULA meeting or broader, with FO’T, Vincent Browne or Gene Kerrigan, better GAA people, better Sinn Féin people, non-Dublin Independent TDs, the ‘Anglo:Not our Debt’ campaign and even SIPTU and any willing progressive priests, speaking. Our Quinn coaltion against this hint of a new right.


doctorfive - August 2, 2012

Time would be better spent organising buses to Ballyhea then further dividing the country imo


Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - August 2, 2012

You’d be lucky to get out alive. Send the tanks into Cavan and ruthlessly suppress this right wing rebellion. Then send our elite Rangers across the border to bring Petey back, hands in cable-ties, black bag over head. Public executions outside the GPO to follow.


EamonnCork - August 3, 2012

It strikes me as very odd to suggest that unity with the supporters of Sean Quinn is a desirable thing to aim for. Ask them for their opinion of his anti trade union stance and you’ll find out how much common ground they share with the left. Ballyhea? Come on now.


6. Saor Uladh - August 1, 2012

Sinn Fein have misjudged on this. The Quinn brand is toxic outside of a bit of Ulster. Talking to GAA club men I know over the last few days there is amazement at the linking of this to support for Gaelic games. How about a banner at the Dub’s game on Saturday?


D_D - August 1, 2012

“How about a banner at the Dub’s game on Saturday?”

What a brilliant idea! I’d almost take up an interest in GAA for it. Almost.


TheOtherRiverR(h)ine - August 2, 2012

Gildernew seems to be in the minority within SF.


7. Joe - August 1, 2012

One of Quinn’s lines/lies is that if he was left in control of his companies he would have paid off his debts cos the companies, especially the insurance business, were still making loads of money. Then the courts yesterday tell us that there’s a probable loss of €1.6bn in the insurance company which will have to be covered by levies on insurance policies (i.e. all policyholders will pay) over the next decade at least.
So not alone did Quinn make a total hash of his investment in Anglo Irish, he also was heading for a massive fall in his insurance businesss. Not exactly Ireland’s most successful entrepreneur in the end.


RosencrantzisDead - August 1, 2012

Some people who remember tell me that Quinn Insurance was run the same way the PMPA was run in the late 70s/early 80s. Deja-vu all over again.


8. Garibaldy - August 1, 2012

I guess that depends on your definition of success. If you become personally very wealthy and you business fails without costing you your assets, then a lot of businessmen certainly consider that success. I think the mistake Quinn made was to guarantee stuff personally. As I understand it, and I’m happy to be corrected, that’s what made him vulnerable to having assets seized, and produced the current situation.


ghandi - August 1, 2012

The personal guarantees were not the real problem, his initial problem was in assuming that you could run an insurance company the same way as any other company, where the profit is the difference between sales and cost of sales, he forgot” about future claims. Then he built up a secret stake in Anglo through cfd’s which he assumed that when he paid for them the share price would be higher, so no problem. He gambled and lost.

One of the things that does ring through is that his Company’s were earning a profit of €10m a week and in a position to pay these debts if they continued trading so why shut him down? There is merit in his claim that we now have the worst run bank in the Country running the most profitable business in the country.

We are were we are and he is openly flouting High Court Orders and the establishment are coming out to support the poor gravel bagger from Fermanagh.


9. Garibaldy - August 1, 2012

There’s a summary of key facts by BBC NI’s business editor of the key facts that, shall we say, doesn’t pull its punches in describing Quinn’s actions



RosencrantzisDead - August 1, 2012

It’s an excellent summary. One part that might be added is the rumour or story that says Sean Quinn did not understand the difference between owning a share and owning a contract for difference on a share. This would not surprise me; most people would probably (like myself) have to google ‘contract for difference’ to find out what one was.


ghandi - August 1, 2012

Yes but most people like me and you would not be buying either I would suggest so we wouldn’t need to know.


RosencrantzisDead - August 1, 2012

Very true. I would stress that, in my view, the fact that Quinn did not understand the difference does not absolve him of any responsibility. Rather it simply illustrates a ‘vaulting ambition’ on his part.


10. John O'Farrell - August 1, 2012

How about an update of this 1977 banner which inspired this pamphlet:


11. Donagh - August 1, 2012

That BBC article seems to connect the collapse of Anglo with Quinn’s punt, as if without it the bank was a perfectly viable banking institution that would see Seany Fitz cruising comfortably into retirement. It seems to suggest too that Quinn used the CDO behind the back of the bank in some way. There’s no acknowledgement of the fact that Anglo were deeply involved in using complex financial instruments and speculating on the money markets for long before that and using their commercial property portfolio of wildly over-priced assets in order to do so. Or maybe I’m just being cranky today.


12. crocodile - August 1, 2012

Michael O’Leary’s letter of support makes me wonder what he would say if Ryanair went belly up. Would he be looking for sympathy as the worker’s friend and benevolent ‘provider of employment’?
He whole ‘providing employment’ thing is at e heart of entrepreneurial self-love: I think people like O’Leary and Quinn see themselves as altruists. As well as deception, there’s a great amount of self-deception going on.


13. gfmurphy101 - August 1, 2012

Me thinks the time for talking is nearing an end , these people are beyond redemption, it is obvious that the 1% can only be removed , they are beyond accomodation ! How many of the 1% in Ireland have just showed contempt for the Irish people since this crisis began, I am sure I could fill pages of names , and even some of the back of a lorry !


14. Heffo's sons - August 2, 2012

How about ‘Sean Quinn- economic traitor’? for the Hill on Saturday?


15. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - August 2, 2012

Interesting post on Look Left Facebook page from John Dwyer (former SF councillor I think) on the Quinn issue:
‘I remember asking a very prominent member of sf about sean quinn about 4 years ago…long before mr quinns “difficulties”….the member in question lit up with the mention of quinns name….my question was “what was quinns politics”…..i was surprised with the answer….”he’s one of ours” the member said “a good republican”…..and there in a nutshell is the SF position…..FF mark2.’


16. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - August 2, 2012

A comment from Quinn in the Daily Mail last week, about one of the financial regulators investigating his company- ‘probably a Rangers fan’, Quinn went on to assert that his family was a ‘good GAA family’: what can all this ethnic coding mean?


Garibaldy - August 2, 2012

The guy who bought Rangers making a similar complaint made me wonder if he’d been reading the Irish news.


Tomboktu - August 3, 2012

Didn’t Conor McCabe over on Dublin Opinion point oout how the other Sean du jour, FitzPatrick, make some remark about ‘his’ bank being a (Roman) Catholic bank, unlike the Protestant Bank of Ireland?


richotto - December 6, 2013

Fintan O’ Toole performs a service reminding us about similarly cheap nationalist rhetoric being used by our elite or at least on their behalf in the media pre crash in “Ship Of Fools” when the Irish rich were buying up big landmarks in London.


17. irishmarxism - August 2, 2012

The real issue with this is not Quinn or his GAA supporters but all the ordinary people who have supported him. See http://irishmarxism.net/


18. Jim Monaghan - August 3, 2012

I was thinking about the lack of a parallel with Goodman. remember how the gov. rushed a bill through the Dail to save him. And he was saved. I think Lenihans intent was to do the same for the banks et al. This time the hole was so big that it practically brought down the state.
In parts of the country there is a lot of social pressure. In part that explains the “support”. Even in Dublin areas you get the feeling that some anti social types are seen as folk heroes. But the private attitude can be quite different.In England if they had had PR then some of the corrupt politicians would still have got a seat.
On a national level there is a concerted attempt to save FF as the loyal opposition. Witness the huge lack of questions as to how caused the crisis when an FFer is commenting on government policy.


19. Roasted Snow - August 3, 2012

Local Fermanagh SF MLA Phil Flanagan comes out on the side of ML the Deputy Leader re; Quinn



20. Jonathan - August 4, 2012

Correct me if I’m wrong here, but for those who bang on about Sean Quinn creating jobs: in the year 2000 the Quinn Group employed less than 1,000 people. By 2008 that had risen to nearly 7,000. Now, the Quinn Group sells property-related supplies and services (i.e. insurance). In other words, 6 out of every 7 jobs created by the Quinn Group were essentially as a result of the property bubble. One can only assume that as conditions in Ireland deteriorate, employment by the Group will do the same.


Jonathan - August 4, 2012

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