user preferences

Sean Quinn - Cowboy turns desperado - A Western in four parts

category ireland / britain | economy | opinion / analysis author Thursday August 02, 2012 15:43author by Dermot Freeman - WSM Report this post to the editors

We don’t know a lot about the personal life of this son of a small farmer. He was the richest man in Ireland in 2008 with an estimated wealth of €4.7billion and now he is only out of jail because the Judge wants him to help the Irish Resolution Banking Corporation (IRBC) recover some of the €2.8 billion that he owes them. You may never have heard of IRBC but you will know of it’s previous alias: Anglo Irish Bank,winner of the dodgiest bank award in a state where there is stiff competition for that prize. His son is in prison, (plush Training Unit in Mountjoy) serving a sentence for what the Judge called ‘outrageous’ contempt of court as he sought to put money/assets beyond the reach of the bank. His nephew Peter is supposed to be there for the same reason but has gone missing. All we know about Sean – the daddy of the empire is that he’s big into the GAA and he likes to play poker for a few quid with his friends. Along with his love of poker, I would guess that Sean senior fancies the odd western.


The Good, The Bad, the Ugly and the Desperate

Sean’s perception of himself is of essentially a good man, who started off the son of a small farmer in Fermanagh and built himself from a quarry he started in the early Seventies, to the conglomerate that incorporated hotels, insurance, healthcare and property at home and abroad, employing 5,500 people at its height. That’s the self-image, and Sean leans back on his chair, puts his boots on the table and says to himself ‘I made this town what it is today’.

The Bad comes in when you actually look at what his success was based on. Take for instance the insurance company that he built: it was based on providing insurance to people who couldn’t normally get insurance and it had massive success declaring profits of €123 million in the first six months of 2006. But if you actually looked underneath that success, you found an insurance company that did not employ an actuary. You might think that a business professional who deals with the financial impact of risk and uncertainty would be essential to an insurance firm, but Sean Quinn did not. In his Western, nobody gets to tell Sean what to do?

He probably thought they cost too much money, and his business plan was to take in loads of money and to minimise the amount he had to pay out.

Where this ultimately led was to the imposition of a 2% levy which is being put onto everyone who has insurance in Ireland [Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2011] in order to cover the estimated cost of the €280m bust of Quinn Insurance. Now every year for the next 5 years Irish people are paying approximately an extra €65m for their insurance thanks to Sean senior. That was the initial story, but after more digging around, it turns out that the debts are closer to €1.6 billion - which is an astounding figure for one insurance company. So what does that mean for the Irish insured? It means that we are going to be paying off this levy, which was a short-term measure, for approximately 25 years. Thank you Sean senior for your brilliant business brain.

Although this cowboy would have you believe that he only likes to gamble when he is having a quiet game of poker with his friends, the truth is that his gambling was far greater than that. He might have this self-image of the biggest man in town creating thousands of jobs, but I think that greed is a primary motive in this case; that is what gets you to be the richest man in the State, and he was in the top 200 on the planet back in 2008.

The commercial court in Dublin in February this year heard that between October 2005 and July 2007 Sean Quinn had built up a 28% stake in the former Anglo using contracts for difference - a financial instrument used to gamble on the bank share price. Then we all know what happened in 2007, the music stopped and there were no chairs to sit down in, casino capitalists' arses hit the floor and the parcel of shit exploded. (I am being metaphorical here but you get the picture, the financial crisis hit and this was coupled with the pricking of the property bubble here.) Sean’s response to this was to get all creative with the accounting and to give his many firms a massive loan from his insurance one. In 2008 the Irish Financial Regulator imposed an unprecedented fine of €3.25 million thanks to the dodgy way Sean was pulling money from his insurance firm (€288m) to cover losses due to his poor stock investments and also to finance a plan to buy more Anglo Irish Bank stock to boost its falling price.

There is much more evidence of bad but we will return to that after a little bit of the ugly. The protests where the workers were given the day off to go marching through the streets looking for their jobs to be saved regardless of the manner in which the company was being run by this cowboy were ugly and reminiscent of a Simpsons mob.

When it all started to unravel Sean started to look pretty desperate and skedaddled across the border and sought bankruptcy, admitting that he owed €194m. Again going across the border extends the Western motif in this story. It was annulled in January of this year and this meant that he found himself back in the commercial court in Dublin. What has been revealed in front of the judge was one desperate attempt after another to put money beyond the reach of the banks or the State. Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and the UK are all mentioned like some kind of Bourne Supremacy of bankruptcy. It was so obvious that the Judge called the contempt they held for the court ‘outrageous’.

So on the one hand we have this ordinary man of the people who wants nothing more than to create jobs, and at the same time we have an incredibly intricate international web of deceit and unscrupulous international financial transactions to put his money beyond the reach of the bank and ultimately the taxpayer who is picking up the pieces. In 2005 Quinn cement was censured by the Labour Court for failing to honour the most basic of working conditions like sick pay, length of the working week and disciplinary procedures. That was a case taken by SIPTU on behalf of workers who couldn’t identify themselves thanks to Sean’s anti-union stance.

His actions are desperate, his behaviour has been ugly. What we have here is a model lesson in visceral greed. Sean may have created great wealth but he wasn’t into sharing it by granting basic terms and conditions to his employees. He left behind a legacy of monumental debt which is being picked up by the workers of this country.

Having sympathy for this cowboy and his gang is like worrying that the hangman is too warm beneath his hood after he’s pulled the lever for the trapdoor and the rope is tightening about your neck.

But also, do not be fooled when the system feeds you one or two victims.

Round up the Horses!

When you’re on the rich list – it’s not important how you get there, just as long as you are there. A system that measures success on money does not ask too many questions on how you made that money. The system raises entrepreneurs to god-like status but when it all crumbles away, you find that the business was based on variation of a constant theme; exploitation. In the case of these cowboys they just found a way of accumulating as much wealth as possible by running an insurance firm like a Ponzi scheme, putting their name on profits, and got busy ferreting that out of the country when people started looking for it back. How can these be profits when the loss of one of his companies amounts to €1,600,000,000. Money makes money and they borrowed more from a dodgy bank in order to make even more money and play tricks within the stock market. Jobs are just a by-product of the primary focus on greed and accumulation.

The other lesson of note is that the rules of the game appear to have changed. The school lessons informed us that entrepreneurs took risk with their capital and this gave them a licence to continually exploit the waged worker for generations. Now, apparently the entrepreneurs can take risks with borrowed capital, which they get from banks, and when they don’t pay it back, the people who are fortunate enough to still have jobs in this bankrupt economy, get to pay back these loans which were taken out to make the rich richer. In insurance terms, those of us who do have insurance cover are going to be paying for Quinn’s business venture into this market for decades. So instead of seeing these processions to protect this cowboy we should be rounding up a posse to pursue justice and go after the architects of this system, and the 1% of greed-heads who’ve made it work for them for so long.

Related Link:
This page can be viewed in
English Italiano Deutsch

Front page

(Bielorrusia) ¡Libertad inmediata a nuestro compañero Mikola Dziadok!

DAF’ın Referandum Üzerine Birinci Bildirisi:

Cajamarca, Tolima: consulta popular y disputa por el territorio

Statement on the Schmidt Case and Proposed Commission of Inquiry

Aodhan Ó Ríordáin: Playing The Big Man in America

Nós anarquistas saudamos o 8 de março: dia internacional de luta e resistência das mulheres!

Özgürlüğümüz Mücadelemizdedir

IWD 2017: Celebrating a new revolution

Solidarité avec Théo et toutes les victimes des violences policières ! Non à la loi « Sécurité Publique » !

Solidaridad y Defensa de las Comunidades Frente al Avance del Paramilitarismo en el Cauca

A Conservative Threat Offers New Opportunities for Working Class Feminism

De las colectivizaciones al 15M: 80 años de lucha por la autogestión en España

False hope, broken promises: Obama’s belligerent legacy

Primer encuentro feminista Solidaridad – Federación Comunista Libertaria

Devrimci Anarşist Tutsak Umut Fırat Süvarioğulları Açlık Grevinin 39 Gününde

The Fall of Aleppo

Italia - Ricostruire opposizione sociale organizzata dal basso. Costruire un progetto collettivo per l’alternativa libertaria.

Recordando a César Roa, luchador de la caña

Prison Sentence to Managing Editor of Anarchist Meydan Newspaper in Turkey

Liberación de la Uma Kiwe, autonomía y territorio: una mirada libertaria para la comprensión de la lucha nasa

Misunderstanding syndicalism

American Anarchist and Wobbly killed by Turkey while fighting ISIS in Rojava

Devlet Tecavüzdür

Attaque fasciste sur la Croix Rousse et contre la librairie libertaire la Plume Noire

Ireland / Britain | Economy | en

Mon 24 Apr, 19:15

browse text browse image

lochgarmenausteritybanner.jpg imageBudget 2013 & the dark times to come 21:42 Fri 07 Dec by Andrew 0 comments

Roughly 1,000 people protested at the Dail (parliament building) in Dublin Wednesday night as yet another austerity budget was debated. As with previous budgets the new flat rate taxes, PRSI & excise hikes will mean workers & those on low income will be hit hard while the richest 1% will hardly notice any difference.

atloendacover1015lr.jpg on my side! 03:54 Sat 06 Oct by Costas Avramidis 0 comments

That pat on the back to our "glorious leader Enda" in Time Magazine fails to come to terms BIG TIME with the reality on the ground here in Ireland.

tinycropmap.jpg image1,600 billion - Massive scale of oil giveaway revealed in Shell to Sea report 16:16 Tue 11 Sep by Workers Solidarity 0 comments

€1,600 billion. That is the figure for Irish Oil & Gas reserves already licensed revealed this morning in a detailed report from Shell to Sea using the energy corporations own reports and estimates. People in Ireland will see almost no benefits from this incredible wealth because the Irish state gives these reserves to the corporations at the cheapest terms in the world.

cameron.jpg imageTories announce new plans to cut housing benefit from under 25s 16:03 Wed 27 Jun by Sean M. 0 comments

David Cameron plans to end housing benefit for claimants aged 16-24. The ‘proposal’ forms part of wider recommendations to begin being implemented next year as part of the new Welfare Act. Further plans being rolled out including linking regional play with regional benefits, breaking the link between benefits and inflation, and considering linking benefits to average earnings and cost of living amounting to a further attack on worker’s rights and conditions.

textECB gives banks 6,250 years worth of Household Tax 23:57 Fri 02 Mar by Paul 0 comments

Wednesday the European Central Bank (ECB) gave out 530 billion euros in 3-year term loans to the private banks of the Eurozone. Together with the 490 billion they doled out last December, that's over 1 trillion euros. If pigs could fly and politicians never lied and every household in the country was magically able to pay the hated Household Tax, the total receipt would be 160 million euro. At that rate, it would take 6,250 years to amount to 1 trillion. It would also take 20 years to amount to the 3.2 billion euros the state are handing over to the Anglo bondholders on the 31st March coming.

topcopvendetta.jpg imageDublin demonstrates against ACTA & SOPA but it is about more than just downloading 20:26 Mon 13 Feb by Andrew 0 comments

Dublin last weekend saw about 400 people take part in a demonstration against the intention of Seán Sherlock, the Labour Party Minister for Research and Innovation to bring into law a requirement for Irish internet service providers to block access to sites that allow the downloading of copy righted material. This is a similar law to the SOPA and ACTA laws that Hollywood & music industry lobbyists tried unsuccessfully to force through the US Congress. A second demonstration is to take place this Saturday.

south_londonmedium.jpg imageHalf a million take to the streets of London against cuts 21:25 Tue 29 Mar by Steven 0 comments

500,000 people marched last Saturday against the coalition government's austerity measures, with the support of the majority of the population.

clarion__low_wages.jpg imageClarion hotel in Cork and Davenport in Dublin: Fighting for solidarity the key 20:43 Thu 24 Feb by Kevin Doyle 0 comments

The attack on workers at the Davenport Hotel in Dublin had highlighted the greed and bullying in the hotel business. A similar case to that at the Davenport has come to light here in Cork. But so far fear has ruled the day. The Clarion describes itself as one of “Cork’s premier 4 Star City Centre Hotels”. Although it’s well able to charge for its rooms it cannot find its way to granting its workers a 29 cents per hour pay rise.

video1% Walk in Dublin: Video Report 07:49 Sat 16 Oct by Dave Donnellan 0 comments

A political walking tour through the heartland of the Golden Circle in Dublin.

Cement truck blocks access to parliament imageProtests in Ireland as part of European action against crisis 22:40 Thu 30 Sep by Alan, Shane, Andrew 0 comments

Despite the escalating costs for the working class of the crisis in Ireland resistance has fallen off ever since the pro partnership leadership of the unions succeeded in getting the Croke park deal passed by the membership. The deal makes vague promises not to impose further pay cuts on the public sector in return for large scale restructuring but was conditional on the economic situation not declining further. Yesterday saw the unions return to the streets with a press call that the left, including the anarchist movement, tried to push into a demonstration. That morning in a rather unusual individual action a man parked a slogan covered cement lorry in the gates of the Dail (parliament building) blocking access. These articles from the WSM site report on these events and include the speech delivered by a WSM member at the protest.

more >>

textIrish government are trying to stop Apple giving Ireland 19 billion in owed taxes - how's that for '... Sep 24 by andrew 0 comments

How many could we house, educate and care for with 19 billion? The Irish government is currently furiously fighting the European Union to prevent Apple paying us back taxes it owes us. There has been a lot of ‘concern’ about government plans to spend 48 million looking after 4000 people fleeing warfare in Syria and Iraq. The government and the media defend there ‘our own’ is first - the super rich in Ireland and elsewhere!

imageGovernment legislation an attempt to bully trade unionists into voting for paycuts May 27 by Gregor Kerr 0 comments

The "Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2013", published by the government on Thursday last (23rd May), is a clear attempt to bully public sector workers into voting for the re-hashed terms of the Croke Park II deal emphatically rejected by them just a couple of weeks ago.

image650,000 Homes STILL Not Paying Unjust Tax May 24 by Dermot Freeman 0 comments

In spite of a long and consistent campaign which has been waged against people in relation to the imposition of this unjust and unfair tax on homes, over 650,000 households have not registered with revenue [22.05.2013]. Draconian legislation and the threats of fines has not resulted in people volunteering their information to the revenue.

imageThe Croke Park extension: What it is and how to fight it Feb 27 by Mark Hoskins 0 comments

Early yesterday morning, the leadership of the public sector committee of ICTU emerged from talks with the government claiming they had achieved the best possible outcome from the negotiations. The best possible outcome in question involves extra hours at work, cuts in overtime rates and allowances for unsociable hours, delayed increments and revisions to flexitime arrangements and work-sharing patterns.

imageCarve up of Girdwood site in Belfast reflects the sectarian carve-up May 26 by Sean Matthews 0 comments

The sectarian row over the former Girdwood army barracks site in North Belfast is part of a larger picture of sectarianism and segregation forming the bedrock of the status-quo, with our local political class depending on it for their very political survival.

more >>
Sorry, no press releases matched your search, maybe try again with different settings.
© 2005-2017 Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by [ Disclaimer | Privacy ]