Brian Cowen: ‘No question of overruling Lenihan’

Former taoiseach Brian Cowen last night said there was never any question of his overruling finance minister Brian Lenihan’s views at the time of the State bank guarantee of 2008.

Brian Cowen: ‘No question of overruling Lenihan’

However, he accepted mistakes were made at the time, saying the Government had to deal with the reality of the situation and available information “to make sure the economy didn’t implode”.

Mr Cowen also said he was looking forward to attending the banking inquiry, probably in July, having been asked to do so earlier this week.

Professor Patrick Honohan, Central Bank governor, has told the inquiry the late Mr Lenihan wanted to nationalise Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society instead of including them in the guarantee.

However, Mr Honohan said Mr Lenihan was “over-ruled” by a more senior politician on that question, as he was when he argued strongly not to include subordinated or junior bank debt in the guarantee.

Mr Honohan said Anglo should have been allowed to fail in September 2008 and that covering subordinated debt in the guarantee was a mistake.

A relaxed Mr Cowen, speaking to reporters in Killarney, Co Kerry, last night, dismissed media reports that he had been “furious’’ at Mr Honohan’s evidence.

“What I’ll be doing (at the banking inquiry) is to explain how the conversation with cabinet colleagues developed,’’ he said.

They were looking at options and there are plusses and minuses in everything. In considering nationalisation, as against a guarantee, they had seen the Northern Rock situation, where nationalisation by the British government had not been sufficient to stop monies going out of the system.

“We had a once-off shot at dealing with the situation and eventually made the decision we made,” he said.

They discussed Mr Lenihan’s views and saw there were problems with nationalisation and problems with a bank guarantee. The important point in Mr Honohan’s report, he maintained, confirmed little if any difference and nobody could say there was one correct way, or thing to do.

Mr Cowen, who was in Killarney to launch a memoir by retired FF TD for Kerry South John O’Leary, said he would have a few months to prepare for his attendance at the inquiry.

He would be tell of the circumstances at the time of the guarantee and the difficulties that took place.

“There’s a growing awareness that there was not as much room to manoeuvre as people thought,” he said.

Former FF cabinet minister and ceann comhairle John O’Donoghue was also at the launch of the book, On The Doorsteps — memoirs of a long-serving TD — by John O’Leary.

Meanwhile, former AIB chairman Dermot Gleeson and former managing director Donal Forde will be quizzed at the banking inquiry on Thursday, about the lender’s behaviour leading up to the 2008 bank guarantee. National Asset Management Agency bosses will also be asked about the acquisition of property assets on behalf of the state and if taxpayers are getting the best value for money.

DISCOVER MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.