Friday 24 March 2017

Gilmore slams Taoiseach's 'Bart Simpson' defence

Michael Brennan

Michael Brennan

LABOUR Party leader Eamon Gilmore yesterday attacked Taoiseach Brian Cowen for using the "Bart Simpson" defence to avoid taking the blame for the economic collapse.

He again criticised Mr Cowen's record as finance minister at the height of the property bubble, saying that he had ignored warnings from his party about the "unsustainable" rise in house prices and had persisted with "light touch regulation" of the financial sector.

Mr Cowen was attempting to re-write history with his recent 7,000-word speech in DCU, which cited a range of different factors and causes for the banking crisis and the property market bubble, he said.

Defence

"I think it's the Bart Simpson defence. I think it is Brian Cowen saying he did nothing wrong, that nobody saw him doing anything wrong and that anyway nobody can prove anything," Mr Gilmore said.

He was speaking at the Labour Party's annual commemoration for Labour founder and executed 1916 leader James Connolly at Arbour Hill cemetery in Dublin. He was joined by SIPTU president Jack O'Connor, who also launched a strong attack on the governments that Mr Cowen served in.

Mr O'Connor said the fruits of the booming economy in 1997 were "stolen" by the Fianna Fail-Progressive Democrat coalition, which incentivised property speculation with "lucrative tax breaks" and encouraged "look the other way" regulation of the financial sector.

"Like a swarm of locusts across fields of hard-won crops the right-wing alliance destroyed any potential for a stable economy based on a model for sustainable growth," he said.

Mr Gilmore refused to say whether he wanted the Croke Park deal for the public service accepted or rejected, saying it was not helpful for politicians to intervene while balloting of workers was ongoing.

Yesterday, Mr Cowen launched a strong attack on the Labour Party, who he said had become an obstruction to any progress. "You can't go round trying to be all things to all people. They're obviously finding a lot of opportunities to do so, because they're not in government, they don't have to make any decisions," he said.

Mr Cowen said Labour had promised to find €4bn of spending cuts last year, but had provided no real details. He also said Labour had opposed the state banking guarantee, which would have led to the collapse of the banking system.

Irish Independent

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