In Ireland, the economic crisis that manifested itself in 2008 originated in the collapse of a property bubble that exposed banks to huge losses on both sides of the border. Two weeks after Lehman Brothers bank filed for bankruptcy in the US, in a bid to stave off market concerns about bank liquidity, the Irish government issued one of the world’s largest ever state bank guarantees in September 2008.
Controversially, it made Ireland the only Eurozone member-state to protect bank creditors and bondholders and exposed Irish taxpayers to debts of over €60 billion, with now defunct Anglo-Irish Bank accounting for almost half of those debts. The government also created an entity known as NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) into which all bad bank loans were consolidated. The bank guarantee and establishment of NAMA were not enough to arrest the nose-dive in the Irish economy arising from the banking crisis, however, and the Irish government was obliged to enter a 3-year loan programme with the Troika of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Commission (EC) and European Central Bank (ECB) in late 2010.
A number of official inquiries into the causes of the crisis, including a parliamentary inquiry, have heard apologies and statements of regret from some representatives of the financial institutions and state bodies who have accepted partial responsibility for contributing to the economic crisis. Others have made direct apologies to shareholders and customers. In this part of the research project, we seek to explore how these corporate apologies were constructed, what they say and how they were delivered, and importantly how they have been heard, if at all, by victims of the Irish economic crisis.