The Oscar-winner, who was bestowed with honorary Corkman status yesterday, said he did not see why bondholders, who he said were basically gamblers, had to be bailed out in full.
“The high-rollers got away with it relatively scot free,” said Mr Irons. “Many householders now in negative equity should have been protected. We should allow people to pay mortgages which reflect the [current] value of their home.”
Referring to the Celtic Tiger years, he said “money and greed are not good for human beings” and they had “attacked Irishness”.
He said he was hugely relieved that the country had gone through that bubble, but very hurt by the fact that it had resulted in the closure of so many businesses in West Cork.
“I’m sorry about that and hope in the future that these firms can build up again,” Mr Irons said.
The actor, who spends most of his time living with his family in the restored Kilcoe Castle near Skibbereen, said he had a feeling when he arrived there 25 years ago that he’d “come home”.
He added that when he first settled in West Cork he could not understand why more people were not coming to the “paradise”.
“What Ireland has to offer is gold dust, but it [future development] needs to be planned. We need to take care of the buildings, magnificent archaeology and farmland,” said the actor, who is a well-known environmental campaigner.
“I’m a sailor and Cork is one of the greatest sailing areas in the world. But we don’t have a lot of [proper harbour] facilities. That’s an enormous waste. What we have doesn’t have to remain secret ” in what he described as “a country and a county second to none”.
Mr Irons said the Government should provide tax breaks for the owners of old stately homes to open them up to the public, which would attract further tourism revenue.
He was presented with his honorary title by its first recipient, producer David Puttnam, who also lives in West Cork.
“I’m very pleased to be an honorary Cork person, as I’m a blow-in. In my heart it [the Cork crystal award] will sit beside my Oscar,” Mr Irons said.
He was also awarded a Rebel Passport, joking that he would show it off in the pubs of West Cork, “or if I get stopped driving too quickly”.
Mr Irons received a two-minute standing ovation from the 250 guests attending the Cork People of the Awards ceremony.
He had to leave the Rochestown Park Hotel shortly afterwards, as he is due to fly out to Los Angeles, where he will find out today if he is to receive a major award from the Screen Actors’ Guild for his portrayal of Henry IV in The Hollow Crown.