Saturday 22 October 2016

Brian Cowen's blame game: Best quotes from Banking Inquiry

Brian Hutton, Press Association

Published 02/07/2015 | 18:24

Former taoiseach Brian Cowen arrives to give evidence at the Oireachtas banking inquiry
Former taoiseach Brian Cowen arrives to give evidence at the Oireachtas banking inquiry

IN A a marathon testimony to the Banking Inquiry, Brian Cowen blamed the banks, the regulators, the global economic crisis, the Opposition, a lack of power, a lack of choices and a range of other factors for Ireland's woes.

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But never himself or his Fianna Fail party.

Here are some of his more memorable quotes on his first day before the parliamentary inquiry -

* Brian Cowen blames the banks - " ... the primary responsibility of the crisis rests with the banks themselves."

* then blames the regulators - "There was a lack of analysis by both the Central Bank and Financial Regulator in challenging the over concentration of risk in property."

* he blames the international crisis - "What happened then was the international crisis hit, access to funds and borrowings evaporated ... and so the vehicle that was allowing you to move the house prices to a more normalised level was taken from you."

* and also the EU/IMF for giving him no choice but to spare the bondholders - "We were left in no doubt that burning senior bondholders would mean no EU/IMF programme - it was one or the other."

* he blames a lack of power to intervene on spiralling bank lending during the boom - "I didn't have that statutory power, that is an independent regulatory power."

* and blames a lack of choices on the night of the infamous banks guarantee - "No option looked good - it was a case of taking the least worst option available."

* he blames a range of factors - "I agree that the property bubble emerged during my time and that it was as a result of a number of factors."

* but not himself - "I don't believe my policies contributed to it."

* nor does he lay any blame with his Fianna Fail-led government - "When I was there, I am happy we did what we did."

* but he admits his party isn't always good for a horseracing tip - "You couldn't get a winner in the Galway Races tent never mind anything else."

* Mr Cowen denies he was too close to property developers - "You're setting me up as some sort of guy who's promoting cowboy speculators. I'm not. I don't travel in those circles at all."

* the ex-Taoiseach has a Jeb Bush moment - "I am my own man."

* Mr Cowen sparks debate on whether or not he actually apologised - "I'm sorry that the policies we felt necessary to put in place in responding to the national crisis brought with it hardship and distress to many people."

* but again defends his leadership - "I want to say to the Irish people that the government I led dealt with the financial crisis to the very best of its ability."

* and if he had to do it all again? - "Now that we know where we are now, of course I would have a different policy, of course I would ... But the policy we had at the time was a policy that was plausible and was backed up by international peer assessment and by domestic commentary here - that's a fact."

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