Noel Dempsey ‘haunted daily’ by crash era decisions

Former minister Noel Dempsey, who was part of the Fianna Fáil-led coalition during the economic crash, has said he is “haunted” by the decisions his government took — and warned Ireland is failing to learn from the mistakes of the past.

Noel Dempsey ‘haunted daily’ by crash era decisions

The former TD said the policies introduced at the time in a desperate bid to save the country from economic collapse were “horrendous for people” and still weigh heavily on his mind in a detailed interview at the weekend.

Speaking on to Marian Finucane on RTÉ yesterday, the ex-Meath TD, who held a number of ministerial positions between 1997 and 2011, said “there isn’t a day that passes” he is not “haunted” by the decisions his coalition took while in office.

“Those three years [2008-2011]were horrendous for everybody. Decisions that I was involved in and partaking in were horrendous for people.

“There isn’t a day that passes that that doesn’t, in some form or another, come back to haunt me,” he said.

Asked if the current Fine Gael-Labour Government, which rose to power during the 2011 ‘democratic revolution’, is failing to learn from the mistakes of the boom and bust Celtic Tiger era after the recent pre-election Budget 2016 announcements, he added: “I don’t think we have.”

Mr Dempsey, who said in hindsight he wished he did not run in the 2007 general election and retired from politics on a high, also said he was “livid” with then finance minister, the late Brian Lenihan, during the days leading up to the troika bailout for not keeping him informed.

The former minister said he and then justice minister Dermot Ahern were told before an infamous interview to reporters as the negotiations were taking place to deny any such talks existed, an issue he now regrets.

Former justice minister Dermot Ahern
Former justice minister Dermot Ahern

Mr Dempsey is the latest in a long line of former ministers during the Celtic Tiger era who have expressed regret over some decisions taken at the worst point in the economic crisis.

The latest remarks come just months before a general election and as Fianna Fáil stands on 20% in the latest opinion polls, giving it a potential opportunity to form some part of the next government if support from voters badly affected by the crash is maintained.

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