Belfast Telegraph

Cowen 'had no plan for economy'

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen had no Plan A, let alone a Plan B, to prevent the economy from collapsing around him, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has claimed.

The former Fianna Fail leader, who revealed he had no backup to deal with the meltdown because he did not believe the dangers involved, made wrong decisions, said Mr Gilmore, the foreign affairs minister.

"I don't think he had a Plan A and I think that's why we ended up in the mess we're in," he said.

"The previous government, the Fianna Fail-led government, I think walked our country into a very serious economic crisis. I think in particular the decision to provide a blanket guarantee to all of the banks was the wrong decision."

In his first in-depth interview since stepping down as Taoiseach and as a TD in February 2011, Mr Cowen stood by the controversial decision to guarantee all the assets and liabilities of the banks in September 2008.

It was this 440 billion-euro guarantee that left Irish taxpayers forced to bail out the banks to the tune of 64 billion euro.

Mr Gilmore said: "We ended up, as you know, effectively in receivership, in a situation where the country and our public finances were put in the hands of the IMF and the European Union.

"And the present Government, which was elected shortly after that, has had to spend the last two-and-half years working our way out of that."

The state is now looking forward to exiting the crippling bailout programme set out by its trio of debt masters: the Troika.

"It's fragile but we are now beginning to see a recovery in our economy," he said.

Mr Cowen told TG4's Comhra programme, to be broadcast next week, he did not necessarily want to be Taoiseach. It was only after his closest colleagues in Fianna Fail urged him to take the job that he agreed to it.


From Belfast Telegraph