WILL the bosses of the Irish banks be getting bonuses this Christmas? It may sound a stupid question given the ordure that has heaped on those gentlemen for their pivotal role in the crisis that Ireland now faces but we have seen on Wall Street and in the City of London how quickly banks seem able to resume business as usual even though the wider damage to which they have contributed will take years to put right. Before they found themselves on the same side George Osborne and Vince Cable each spoke boldly about the need to rein in banks and bankers. One year ago Mr Osborne spoke about “inexcusable” bonuses which instead should be used to lend to “small businesses, medium businesses, to help people keep their jobs”. Mr Cable used some very rough language to make clear how he felt about bankers and their ways. But now Mr Osborne is doing no more than writing to his opposite numbers in the EU to see whether there is any chance of reaching an EU-wide agreement on bonus caps. Mr Cable spoke yesterday about negotiations in progress to get banks to sign up to the tax avoidance code which Labour introduced when it was in office. Why it should be seen as an achievement to get bankers to agree not to be too clever in their tax avoidance schemes is hard to understand. Banks really have to be reined in.


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