Belfast Telegraph

Kenny answers 'insincerity' claims

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has responded to accusations of insincerity following his explanations for the causes of Ireland's crippling economic crisis.

Fianna Fail's John McGuinness, a junior minister in the last government, claimed Mr Kenny was giving mixed messages to international and domestic audiences over where the fault for recession lies.

The controversy broke at the World Economic Forum gathering on Thursday in Davos, Switzerland, when the Taoiseach said Ireland's economic crisis was caused by people's mad borrowing.

In a pre-recorded interview for RTE, broadcast after his heavily-criticised remarks were aired across Europe, Mr Kenny went on to blame reckless lending by banks, incompetent government and greedy borrowing for disastrous development.

Mr Kenny said: "When I was at home I made it clear in my state of the nation address to the people that it was not the people's fault. In a panel discussion with the Danish and Finnish prime ministers, I set in context what happened in Ireland.

"We had very poor regulation, incompetent government - we had a system in the banking regime that paid big bonuses on volume lending which meant that developers, in the sense of buying and proposing schemes that could never be paid by people, brought our country over the edge. I set that in context very clearly."

He added: "That means that situation that my government inherited was unprecedented which means you've got to balance a programme of austerity with a programme of initiative and growth which the government is doing within the constraints that are imposed on us by the memorandum of understanding by the troika."

Despite the later more detailed message, the opposition and social commentators launched stinging attacks and accused the Taoiseach of sending out two messages for two different audiences.

Mr McGuinness said his credibility had been damaged. "When you are delivering a message like that, whether it is in Dublin or Davos, if you are sincere about the message it will be the same," he said.

"I think the message being delivered by the Taoiseach in terms of what he said in Davos has damaged his credibility and his message. You can't deliver two different messages to the same audience."

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