Change of tack as Bruton reveals admiration for ECB
FORMER Taoiseach John Bruton yesterday said he had "huge admiration" for the European Central Bank (ECB) -- despite recently accusing the Frankfurt powerhouse of a "major failure of supervision" that contributed to the Irish banking crisis.
The conciliatory comments from Mr Bruton, made on the sidelines of an insurance industry forum, came two months after the IFSC tzar launched the first of a series of attacks against the ECB.
"They responded [to my comments] both publicly and privately," Mr Bruton said.
"I respect them much much more for the fact that they did respond.
"I have great admiration for the people in the ECB; they're dealing with situations that were foreseeable but entirely unforeseen by every organisation and institution. I think we should pay a lot of attention to what the ECB says."
The comments are in stark contrast with his previous claim that the ECB failed to use its powers to regulate Irish banks -- comments that provoked outrage in Frankfurt given Mr Bruton's former role as Europe's US ambassador.
Mr Bruton insisted he hadn't "softened his stance" on the ECB.
"I always said that the first and major responsibility [for the crisis] is our own, but we're not going to learn anything at European level if we don't look at the failings of European institutions too," he added.
In his speech to the European Insurance Forum, Mr Bruton said he was "confident" that the IMF's supportive comments on Ireland's corporate tax regime would have "caught the attention" of France.
France has been pushing for Ireland to raise its corporate tax rate as a 'quid pro quo' for securing a cut in the interest payable on the bailout, but the IMF last week said this wasn't part of the bailout deal and could hit Ireland's ability to repay the loans.
Addressing the assembly, Mr Bruton insisted Ireland's sovereign debt situation was "entirely sustainable" and the country had "the political will to do what needs to be done to make sure we pay our way".
On the sidelines of the gathering, Mr Bruton said he would use an upcoming trip to China to push the case for investment in Ireland's financial sector "if the opportunity arises".
Mr Bruton has been invited to speak on economic growth in a major city in China's interior region.