Madam, – John McManus’s claim that “nobody shouted stop” in his column (“We sat back and watched Fingleton hijack Nationwide”, Business Today, April 19th) is not correct. I shouted stop.
I have been campaigning with Brendan Burgess for nearly 10 years to hold Michael Fingleton and chairman Michael Walsh to account for their stewardship of Irish Nationwide. We submitted a range of motions for the Society’s AGMs, and Brendan Burgess ran for election as a director a number of times. We changed the lending practices of the Society regarding penalty interest. We forced the Society to start discussions with the Financial Regulator (IFSRA at that time) on demutualising the society.
Unfortunately, the Financial Regulator blocked our attempts to impose a deadline for demutualisation. This decision has cost Irish Nationwide members around €10,000 each.
For the 2003 AGM, I submitted a motion of no confidence in Mr Fingleton. Irish Nationwide unsurprisingly rejected the motion. The Financial Regulator directed Irish Nationwide to allow a motion of confidence in Mr Fingleton to go forward. Over 80 per cent of members voted confidence in Mr Fingleton. Most members were mesmerised by claims such as “strong leadership of our managing director”, “our business model has clearly proven itself” and “we will continue to build on our success for the benefit of all our members and staff” (direct quotations from the Directors Report for 2002). Most members failed to see beyond the dollar signs flashing in front of their eyes to recognise the fundamental flaws in the leadership provided by Mr Fingleton and Mr Walsh.
I shouted stop, but few members listened. Now the taxpayer is left to pay the bill. – Yours, etc,