Tonight marks the fifth anniversary of the then government's decision to guarantee the liabilities of six Irish-owned banks and building societies.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance Brian Hayes today described it as a low point in the country's history.

Sinn Féin said it was one of the biggest mistakes made in the history of the State.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Mr Hayes said huge mistakes were made not just in the political system, but also in the banking and regulatory systems.

Mr Hayes said those mistakes "cast a very long shadow" on the country for the past five years.

But he said the country had gone through enormous adjustment and turmoil in the last five years. He said there is now hope that we had come through the worst of it and were now "a stronger people".

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty said anyone who defends the idea of guaranteeing all of the banks' liabilities was "living in cloud cuckoo land".

Mr Doherty said when looking at all the pain and suffering, and the stark facts of the unemployment, emigration and mortgage distress figures, it was clear that the wrong decision was taken by the State at that time.

He said there were options in the weeks that followed the bank guarantee decision, and the country should have pulled back from the guarantee.

Mr Doherty said it was clear, five years on, that the "austerity experiment has failed".