Former taoiseach Brian Cowen has heaped praise on the Coalition Government’s efforts to wave goodbye to the Troika, saying he hoped Ireland would not need a second bailout.
Speaking in Dublin last night, Mr Cowen, who was taoiseach during the disastrous €440bn bank guarantee and Ireland’s humiliating loss of economic sovereignty, described the events from the 2008 crash to the 2010 bailout as very difficult times, but he reiterated he was fully available to take part in the Oireachtas banking inquiry planned for early next year.
“Its nice to see the programme is completed now, thankfully we’re moving out of it,” said the former Laois-Offaly TD who was speaking at the launch of veteran journalist PJ Cunningham’s book, The Lie of the Land. “I think everyone has to be congratulated for sticking with the plans and getting it done to satisfaction.”
Mr Cowen said Ireland still had a long way to go and exiting the bailout was an important chapter in the country’s history. “Credit to the Government for implementing what had to be achieved and set out in the [troika] plan... we just have to keep plugging away at it,” he said.
He said there has not been good news for a very long time and being in government was not easy. “I hope they all get on well... and don’t end up like me.” he joked.
The former Fianna Fáil leader said he had no plans to write his own book, and pointed to other publications that have appeared since Sept 2008 which have set out the events leading up to and after the bank guarantee in a “broader context”.
“The Oireachtas are going to set up a reporting mechanism and I’m available as other people will be too, I’m sure,” he said.
Asked how he felt about the criticism he has endured over his role in the economic collapse, Mr Cowen hinted history may be kinder to him, though it was a matter for others to decide.
“Some criticism can be justified and some can be very unjustified”, he said, adding: “I think that maybe through time there’s a growing perspective that this was a really difficult time and you know things were happening in terms of the financial markets that went way off the Richter scale.”
He claimed the analysis at the time of the guarantee was that the banks were not broke. The guarantee subsequently cost the taxpayer €64bn. He said he did not know if Ireland would require a second bailout but he hoped it would not arise because he believed the world economy was beginning to recover.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved