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Fat cats, bankers and fragile birds

Off the fence
Fat cats, bankers and fragile birds


Áine RyanOff the fence
Áine Ryan


A WEEK later and I’m still not the better of the standoff between my bitch of a cat and a poor little defenseless robin. The confrontation occurred in my kitchen last Tuesday morning. I’m not sure who was more traumatised, myself or the fluffy little redbreast. (May he rest in peace, the crathur.)
At the time, I was preoccupied by a mathematical conundrum. Would the new managing director of Allied Irish Banks, Colm Doherty, earn 49 or 50 times more than the annual social welfare dole for a single person? The same dole that’s about to be cut by our government. I had already worked out that his reduced fat cat salary of €500,000 is around 15 times the average industrial wage.
There I was muttering expletives to myself about bankers when my feline nemesis – Hilary Rodham Clinton – strutted in the back door carrying a present (by her bizarre interpretation) for me in her mouth.
I don’t exaggerate, when I say my scream was bloodcurdling. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if my neighbours around Westport Harbour thought a vicious assault, even a murder, had been committed.
After calming down and successfully waving the sweeping brush in a most menacing manner, I managed to extricate Hilary from the crime scene. The bird was not dead at this point. Possibly in cardiac arrest though. And in an adrenaline-filled moment, it managed to muster all its strength and limp under the shelter of a bookcase.
Meanwhile, Hilary was catnapping in an adjacent room. Like all predators, she was entirely unperturbed by the chaos she had just incurred. Indeed, her fulfillment and following of ancient instincts ensured there was neither a whit of remorse nor a scintilla of a moral dilemma over the avian and human toll she had just effected.
Bankers are a bit like cats. Although their predatory instincts are driven by profits rather than presents. Isn’t it ironic that despite all the millennia of alleged evolution (see Charles Darwin and The Origin of Species), we humans are still often more governed by instinct than controlled by intellect.
In what other retrospective light can we rationalise the excesses of the Celtic Tiger? Was it not driven by the speculative recklessness of our builders and bankers? And what was that based on? Nothing else but personal and corporate avarice.
Clearly, there’s no place in the big boys boardroom for ethical concerns or moral prevarications when acquisitions and takeovers are on the agenda. Of course, the pithy question is would we all have acted in such a grasping and grabby way given half the chance.
Personally, I don’t think I would have sold my granny (if she was still alive) to buy a bank of land in the middle of nowhere to build a shanty like estate of semi-detached houses. Maybe that’s why that’s why my cat is in the doghouse.

MPU Mayo