The Guarantee (2014)
On the night of September 29, 2008, the Irish government decided to guarantee the entire domestic banking system. That decision was made by a handful of men in a room in the middle of the night. By the time the costs can be fully counted, in another 30 years or so, it will have cost over EUR60 billion – the most expensive bank rescue in history. ‘The Guarantee’ tells the story of that night, and what led to it. Starting four years earlier, it charts the peak of the boom and the beginning of the bust. The first half of the drama is a story of hubris: how the Irish establishment blithely ignored the warning signs from abroad, and from its own Cassandras, and failed to rein in the property market and the wider economy. The second half of the drama shows the key players in the establishment as they struggle to come to terms with the unfolding of the consequences of their earlier hubris, during the month of September 2008, as the global banking system buckled and the Irish economy faced collapse. It is a drama of classical proportions, in which the tragic hero is Ireland. Like Cinderella, Ireland was the poor sister of Europe, who finally got a chance to go to the ball. But when she got there, she forgot herself; she stayed past midnight, and suddenly all her riches returned to rags. At the heart of the drama are the figures of the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance and the Central Banker, Officials in the Department of Finance and the heads of the key banks. Elsewhere, the character of a Hedge Fund Manager in London brings an external viewpoint on events. Other characters come and go, but these are the key decision makers. We move quickly between locations, moving ever quicker towards the night itself, as we chart the end of the boom and the onset of the global financial crisis. And then, suddenly, we are in the Taoiseach’s meeting room in Government Buildings, and the clock is ticking towards the opening of the markets in the morning, and these men have to make a decision – a decision for all of us.