Coveney: Former politicians should forfeit their pensions

Bankers should be jailed and former politicians should forfeit their pensions, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has suggested.

Mr Coveney said he would love to see bankers in the dock and senior politicians from previous governments lose pensions but that the country also needed forward-thinking solutions.

The minister contradicted previous reports that Labour colleagues walked out of Cabinet during budget negotiations and denied this took place.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr Coveney spoke about negotiations on EU payments for farmers, the growing agri-food sector and the fall-out from the budget.

But the Cork South Central TD admitted that he and others wanted to see bankers and former politicians made accountable for the economic crisis.

“Clearly, governments preceding this one and preceding the one that Brian Cowen was taoiseach for, made dreadful mistakes that have resulted in a catastrophic economic collapse Ireland is still grappling with.”

He said Ireland needed to find solutions to get “out of the painful mess” rather than focusing on who was at fault.

But he added: “All of that stuff would be satisfying, I’d love to see bankers in prison. I’d love to see senior politicians from previous governments losing pensions, I’d love to see people in the dock.

“That will take its course through police investigations, through Oireachtas Committees on banking and so on.”

But people wanted higher incomes or solutions, he said, rather than him “bitching politically” about previous governments.

Mr Coveney denied reports that Labour ministers walked out of Cabinet during tough negotiations before the budget.

He said: “I never sat at a Cabinet meeting where there was a Labour walkout. It didn’t happen. There was no Cabinet walkout, I can categorically say that.”

The agriculture and food minister said farmers on higher incomes would lose out from the re-negotiation of the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy, but insisted there “weren’t too many millionaires in farming”.

Farmers on low incomes instead would gain next year.

Overall, direct EU payments to Irish farmers could be cut by nearly €40m, he signalled.

Mr Coveney said he wished to stay on as agriculture minister for the lifetime of the Government and had no ambitions to move portfolios in any Cabinet reshuffle.

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