Ahern believes his government deserves credit for economic boom

FORMER taoiseach Bertie Ahern wants people to credit his government for growing the economy before its collapse.

And he said it would have been “exciting and interesting” to have led the country during the period which saw it require an international bailout.

“An economy is always up and down, we brought it up… I always claim that if people blame us for bringing down the economy, they also have to blame us for bringing it up,” he said.

The retired taoiseach, who resigned after a slew of damaging twists in the inquiries of the Mahon Tribunal, said he would have preferred to remain in office for excitement of governing during the recession.

“I would have stayed on because that would have been exciting and interesting and nice… the whole thing about politics is that you’re in for tough times and tough decisions and I would have liked that kind of a challenge.”

In a lengthy interview with Dublin City University’s student radio station, Mr Ahern said it was unfair to apportion blame for the banking crisis on his government’s willingness to spend money.

And he believes the international community does not think Ireland’s problems were of its own making but instead it fell victim to a crisis beyond its control.

“My answer to them who say if we didn’t spend so much we wouldn’t have had the banking crisis, well that’s nonsense.

“People abroad just see these as world problems and Ireland is just another one suffering from it. They don’t see it the way we do at all,” he said.

Some extracts from the interview were publicised during the summer and revealed Mr Ahern’s belief that he would have performed well in the general election.

In the latest segments to be released he blamed the media for spending too much time probing his financial affairs during the critical spell in 2007 when, he said, journalists should have been examining the economic trends.

“The media just stopped following the economy, there should be an investigation into it... they should have been following the economy from August 2007 but they weren’t, they were following me.

“The government were following the economy but the media weren’t, it was a very poor job by the media really.”

The former taoiseach also expressed regret for getting into a cupboard in a television advert for the News of the World, where he wrote a sports column.

“I didn’t put any thought into it… I mean it was kind of a stupid idea. Everybody kind of goes mad about it. It was drummed up by a handful of people.”

Mr Ahern’s interview will be aired on DCUfm, www.dcufm.com, this Tuesday at 4pm.

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