Thursday 23 February 2017

Lenihan: I had to lead when 'disappointing' Cowen didn't

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan during a press conference in December 2009 when the pair were Taoiseach and Finance Minister
respectively. Mr Lenihan has criticised Mr Cowen for his
Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan during a press conference in December 2009 when the pair were Taoiseach and Finance Minister respectively. Mr Lenihan has criticised Mr Cowen for his "failure to communicate"

FORMER Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has launched a scathing attack on ex-Taoiseach Brian Cowen, saying he had to provide leadership when Mr Cowen didn't.

Mr Lenihan also said he was "disappointed" by Mr Cowen's performance but said the pair had a good working relationship at Cabinet.

"I had a good working relationship with Brian Cowen around the cabinet table but I was disappointed," the Dublin West TD told the 'Community Voice' newspaper.

"I felt that when he was elected Taoiseach he would give a stronger lead and express himself in a more forthright way about the problems facing the country. I felt that I had to give a lot of that lead and give those forthright expressions myself, along with everything else."

When contacted last night, Mr Lenihan said the interview "speaks for itself" and said he had nothing to add to it.

"Brian Cowen himself acknowledged there were communications failures," Mr Lenihan said last night. "I had a very good working relationship with Brian Cowen and have a good personal relationship with him."

Efforts to contact Mr Cowen last night were unsuccessful.

Mr Cowen appointed Mr Lenihan as Finance Minister when he took over as Taoiseach in 2008, and Mr Lenihan, who was Justice Minister at the time, said he argued with Mr Cowen over his appointment.

"When the Government was formed in 2007 I was delighted to be appointed to the Department of Justice," he said in the interview. "I had a tremendous 11 months there.

"When Brian Cowen was appointed Taoiseach, he asked me to be Minister for Finance. I did not seek the job and I did argue with him at the time but he asked me to do it and you don't refuse a prime minister when he asks you to do a job."

Leadership

He also said his responsibilities as Finance Minister prevented him challenging for the party leadership.

" I was aware that essentially I was the financial controller of Ireland and that Ireland was in very choppy waters and any political move of mine could have destabilised the finances of the country," he added.

"That was weighing heavily with me in relation to the Fianna Fail leadership. So I was very conscious of the fact that if I withdrew my support from the Government, irrespective of personal considerations, it had the danger of bringing down the financial stability of the country with it.

"It was a terrible constraint to be operating under."

Irish Independent

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