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Wednesday 3 September 2014

'Ireland was a shipwreck.... we had to do things we did not want to do' - Labour's Pat Rabbitte

Published 25/05/2014 | 10:44

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Labour's Pat Rabbitte

Ireland was on the verge of bankruptcy and Labour to make unpopular decisions to save it, says Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.

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Mr Rabbitte told host RTE's Morning Ireland host Cathal MacCoille that “some things were said that shouldn’t have been said” by the prty prior to the General Election in 2011.

However, the party were forced to make unpopular decisions as the country was a "shipwreck" and had to be saved from bankruptcy.

When pressed by MacCoille as to whether Labour could apologise to the electorate, Mr Rabbitte defended his party saying they had little choice when faced with the reality of Ireland’s financial situation in 2011.

“I’ve already said that some things had been said that ought not have been said.

“But I am saying to you that when the people who negotiated the programme for government met with the Governor of the Central Bank, the Secretary General of the Department of Finance and the Chairman of the National Treasury Management Agency, that things were unimaginably worse than we thought they were.

"As a result we had no choice to tailor our economic policies to turn this country around.

“If it does [assuage people’s anger], I’m quite happy to say I’m sorry.”

Mr Rabbitte agreed the party made some commitments that it wasn’t able to deliver on.

“I’m sorry we weren’t able to deliver on them.

“I would love to have spared the people hardship especially those who borne the brunt of the hardship.

“The reality was that the country was shipwrecked and needed to be pulled back from bankruptcy.”

To restore economic sovereignty required Labour to “do things that we didn’t want to do”, he said.

“We didn’t believe at the time that we would have to do it.”

Mr Rabbitte was speaking as speculation mounts about Eamon Gilmore’s future as leader of the party.

The party’s support fell to just 7pc for these elections.

In 2011, the party had support of 19pc, bolstered by famous elections campaigns such as ‘Every Little Hurts’.

Education minister Ruairí Quinn, speaking to Newstalk, had a similar theme to Mr Rabbitte.

‘‘Inevitably we got stuff wrong in that we were doing stuff that was unprecedented and in those circumstances you make mistakes but overall we’ve got the country back on track…but it has been very messy and very difficult and very tough on everybody," he said.

‘‘Unlike Greece or Spain or Portugal where there were riots in the streets and all sorts of disruptions, the people held their breath and waited for the ballot box and dropped the grenade into the ballot box,’’ he said.

‘‘The recovery hasn’t been felt, people are still paying out taxes that they didn’t have to pay before. Their income has been reduced, in the public sector quite extraordinarily, in terms of comparisons with other countries.’’

Irish Independent

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