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Merkel calls Anglo Irish Bank chatter damaging to democracy

German chancellor Angela Merkel has slammed the conduct of some Irish bankers who were caught on tape joking about an EU bailout. Merkel has called their attitudes an insult to all hard-working people.

Angela Merkel called the attitudes of bankers at Anglo Irish Bank an insult to working people and damaging to democracy.

"For people who go to work each day and earn an honest living, this kind of thing is very hard to take," she said Friday on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Brussels. "It's impossible to stomach."

In Ireland, transcripts of telephone conversations between employees from 2008 at Anglo Irish Bank have caused a massive outrage. In the tapes, the workers make fun of the government's decision to guarantee bank liabilities at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. Moreover, they talk about demanding "moolah," slang for money, from Ireland's central bank.

The bankers also joked about Germany's role in the Irish banking bailout and are heard singing the banned prewar national anthem, including the words "Deutschland über alles": "Germany above everything."

Merkel called the Irish bankers' conduct damaging to democracy, the social market economy and all that people work for. This was making it harder for policymakers to convince their citizens to support struggling European partners, she added.

In 2008, the Irish government offered a blanket guarantee to Anglo Irish and other major lenders that were threatened with going bust in the financial crisis. The decision eventually cost taxpayers some 30 billion euros ($39 billion), forcing Ireland to seek rescue funding from the EU in 2010.

uhe/mkg (dpa, Reuters)

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