Cowen: Govt should have cooled the boom

Friday 14 May 2010 22.31
Brian Cowen - 'Stunning failures' in corporate governance in the banks
Brian Cowen - 'Stunning failures' in corporate governance in the banks

The Taoiseach has again acknowledged that he shares the blame for mistakes made by the Government during his time as Finance Minister and Taoiseach.

On RTÉ's News at One, Brian Cowen said that, in hindsight, he should have introduced a property tax to cool the property boom.

He also rejected suggestions that the Government was attempting to 'soften up' pensioners for a cut in the State pension.

Mr Cowen said there would be further adjustments to be made in future budgets and contributions would have to be made.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has described yesterday evening's speech by the Taoiseach as 'another example of hands being washed by those in charge'.

Last night, Mr Cowen gave a speech to the North Dublin Chamber of Commerce. (Watch | Read the full speech)

Earlier, Mr Kenny accused Mr Cowen of refusing to accept responsibility for ‘driving the economy onto the rocks’.

The Fine Gael leader said the best thing the Taoiseach could do now was hold the three pending bye-elections, or a General Election, so the people could have their say.

Referring to comments yesterday by the Minister for Social Protection, Éamon Ó Cuív, he also called on the Taoiseach to give a commitment today that there will be no cut to old age pensions.

In last night's speech, Mr Cowen pledged that the Government will never again intervene in the market by offering tax incentives.

He also said there have been 'stunning failures' in corporate governance in the banks.

In the wide ranging speech, the Taoiseach said the crisis caused untold damage and that those who engaged in fraud will be pursued by the gardaí with determination.

He told his audience that while many would expect him to ascribe the banking crash to international factors alone that was not his view.

There had been domestic vulnerabilities, but at the time, authorities from the International Monetary Fund down had concluded that the Irish economy was robust enough to withstand the shocks.

Fine Gael's Finance Spokesman Richard Bruton described the Taoiseach's remarks as a pathetic attempt to pre-empt the findings of the preliminary banking inquiry.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said he absolutely rejected Mr Bruton's claim.