by Pat Brosnan


More Problems for Banks


During the past week the news that there could be anything up to 2,500 redundancies in the AIB network of Banks throughout the country is a devastating prospect, not alone for the Bank staffs that are at risk of losing their jobs, but also for the banks customers and indeed for the general public who avail of its services. It is an awful state of affairs if the present staff numbers are about to be reduced further for as we are all aware the build up of queues in the banks are already frustrating enough but what will it be like when the staff numbers will be further reduced when all these redundancies will be implemented. It is not of course the AIB Banks that will be affected, all this scaling down in staff numbers is likely to apply right across the board to all the Banks throughout the land.  While it has been reported that the AIB management is hoping that most of the proposed redundancies will be voluntary this is unlikely to happen. How could any young or even middle aged person in the prime of their lives opt to relinquish a well paid job and accept the stingy redundancy payments that they would probably receive in compensation. It certainly looks as if anybody in their right mind would be inclined to go down that road. While we are constantly hearing about problems in the Banks which are ongoing in spite of the Government spending millions to bail them out and the setting up of the NAMA Organisation it still looks as if their troubles are far from over. This latest proposed hatchet job on staff members and the redundancy targets that are being set out is reported as being very likely to have a devastating impact on industry, which no doubt it will.  But then again it would not be the first time that Banks have taken decisions that were not in the public interest.  It is many years ago and long before the present recession that both the Bank of Ireland and the AIB Branches pulled out of Athea. We have never heard of any logical explanation as to why they decided to do so but they certainly were part of the local infrastructure in Athea at the time and were some of the first to pull the plug followed, of course, by many more doing so which has seen such a radical decline in the commercial and local business life in our little town.  While, naturally, the two main Irish Banks can in no way be expected to take the blame for all the subsequent closures in Athea Nevertheless the termination of the Banking service here was most disappointing at the time. By all accounts efforts were made at the time to get other Banks to provide a service for the local people here but these apparently came to nothing. Thankfully, however, we still have our Credit Union here which provides a valuable service for the people of the area whether by way of either investments or loans. In the meantime if the Banks forge ahead with all these redundancies it can mean only bleak unemployment for their present staffs and lengthening queues and inconvenience for the public.


Fine Gael Celebration?

By all accounts the Fine Gael Party intended to hold a celebration last week on the 1st Anniversary of the Party joining with Labour to form the present Coalition Government. However, when Pat Rabbitte of the Labour Party rubbished the idea as being silly, it apparently was called off. Now it appears that both Fine Gael and Labour are both sending out leaflets separately outlining their achievements during the past year in Government. Both parties have denied that there are any tensions between them over this matter or that there is any attempt at one-upmanship.  One wonders what either party has to celebrate because there is little doubt that generally the country is in a worse situation than it was when they formed the Government just over a year ago.  However, looking at things in the overall we have to be thankful that things are still ticking over and that so far anyway we are not aware of people dying of hunger. Of course, we might also ponder would Fianna Fáil or any other Party or combination of Party’s have done any better over the past year. It is certainly doubtful if they would. No doubt Micheál Martin was upbeat about what Fianna Fáil could do when he addressed the recent Party Árd Fheis. But no matter what way politics might evolve here during the next few years while there remains that traditional right wing conservative elements within the main parties and that includes the Labour Party any radical changes are out of the question. But side by side with this we know that there are progressive forces within all the main parties who if they get a chance would transform the whole political landscape in the State.  But the trouble is they are wary about opening their mouths and expressing their views lest they be accused of trying to rock the boat. This was in evidence when Fianna Fáil was in its prime; the leaders saw to it that any kind of discussion was tackled before it had time to take hold. Perhaps the same is likely to be the norm in the other main parties.  So when the leaflets are sent out by the two Coalition Government Party’s recording their record of achievements during the past year people would do well to remember that these have been allegedly produced at the expense of the Irish taxpayers. What the Party’s are hoping to achieve in relation to this exercise is difficult to understand. The vast majority of the people already know very well what the Government has achieved and more to the point what it has failed to achieve during the past year and any pieces of paper which they might receive will hardly convince them of anything other than the facts.


 Many Young Men of Twenty

When John B Keane wrote the popular and highly acclaimed play “Many Young Men of Twenty” back in the ‘60’s he captured the mood of the time when young Irish people in their thousands were leaving the country to work abroad mostly in England and The United States. John B had gone to work in England himself during the ‘50’s and by a coincidence on my way back from a holiday in Lisdoonvarna John B was on his way home from England got in the same carriage on the Limerick/Tralee train. John B was heading for Listowel while my own destination was Abbeyfeale. We chatted about various things on the journey and there was also a girl from Listowel in the carriage with us – a daughter of the late and great Republican Jack Lenihan.  That was many years before John B wrote “Many Young Men of Twenty” and also a long while before my own decision to immigrate to England in 1957. As already stated emigration was rife during the ‘50’s but was it any worse than it is at the present. Not alone are many young men of twenty leaving the land but also young men and young girls of twenty, forty and even fifty or over.  The exodus from the country is now greater than it was even in the so-called hungry ‘50’s, at least at that time there were many in secure jobs here. Some of us left these secure jobs and emigrated not because we had to go for economic reasons but because we wanted to experience life abroad.  By what we have seen on television during the past week in Dublin the queues looking to take up work abroad is unprecedented. There were also queues at Tommy Moran’s Hotel in Cork all seeking employment abroad. Tommy Moran himself could indeed give them good advice on how to be a successful immigrant or how to prosper after returning.