In his first public comments since leaving office, former taoiseach Brian Cowen has admitted that his government should have increased taxes and cut spending.

The comments are contained in a speech he gave at Georgetown University in Washington last week but which was only published today.

Mr Cowen said with the benefit of hindsight, budgetary policy should have "leaned more heavily against the wind".

He said, however, low taxes protected low income workers from poverty.

Mr Cowen said regulation of the banking sector was "complacent and permissive", while appearing to meet best international standards.

Defending the banking guarantee, he said the government felt it had "only one shot" at calming the markets and said it could not be known if a narrower guarantee would have been a better idea.

He said that to renege on any part of the guarantee would have amounted to a declaration that Ireland was a bankrupt state.

Mr Cowen said that all in authority had to accept blame for decisions that were made, but that he as former taoiseach and minister for finance "more than most".