The Dublin governmment, through State-owned Anglo Irish Bank, is to give 700 million euro to Quinn Insurance following the latest major collapse in Ireland’s humbled financial industry.
It appears that reckless speculation by Sean Quinn and the Quinn family undermined the group’s financial position and put a question over its ability to cover possible future claims on its insurance policies -- including life, health, and automotive products.
In particular, Mr Quinn lost three billion Euro on shares in Anglo-Irish Bank, which collapsed dramatically amid fraud allegations last year and has since been nationalised. Incredibly, almost all of the money used to buy the shares was borrowed from the bank itself. And, symptomatic of the bizarre money-go-round in the ‘golden circles’ of the Irish elite, the bank is now to bail out the Quinn group -- thanks to the Irish exchequer, which is to foot the bill in return for Anglo’s majority stake in the group.
The risk of insolvency was first revealed when the new Financial Regulator in the 26 Counties ordered Quinn into administration last week.
It appears the state’s move this [Thursday] evening will largely benefit US bondholders who hold the group’s debt, but crucially may safeguard the jobs of current Quinn employees. Irish insurance policy holders, regardless of which firm underwrites the policies, are likely to be required to pay higher premiums to contribute to the cost.
The Regulator appointed provisional administrators to the company, indirectly threatening thousands of jobs north and south of the border, particularly in counties Cavan, Monaghan and Fermanagh.
The fall-out provoked confused exchanges between Ministers in the Belfast executive and the Dublin government, and led to angry demonstrations by Quinn employees whose fate hung in the balance.
DUP Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and her Executive colleague and local MP, Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew, attended a rally this [Thursday] night in Enniskillen in support of the Quinn employees.
Yesterday, thousands turned out in Dublin and Cavan to highlight their concern, focussing on the regulator’s decision to stop Quinn Insurance accepting new business in Britain, which he said was “loss-making” and “unprofitable”.
Yesterday’s protest in Dublin began outside the Dail and protesters walked to Government Buildings on Merrion Street. Letters were handed in at the Department of Finance and the Taoiseach’s office while protesters chanted “save our jobs”.
Speaking after a hectic day on Tuesday, on which she met with employees of the Quinn Group, The Cavan Chamber of Commerce, The Central Bank of Ireland, the Administrators and the Financial Regulator, Michelle Gildernew said the primary concern was the security of the thousands of the jobs at stake and the welfare of those employed by the Quinn Group.
“I urged them to bear these workers in mind when they made their decision on how to proceed with this matter,” she said.
“I can understand the difficult position that they find themselves in, and it is clear that they have a genuine desire to protect the jobs at Quinn Insurance and within the wider Quinn Group. The administrators and the financial regulator are both very keen to resolve this issue, but there are complicated legal matters for them to take into consideration.
“There is much more work needed before a satisfactory resolution can be reached and I am ready to continue playing whatever role I can in this process.”