Sunday 24 September 2017

Bertie still blaming 'Joe and Mary Soap' for crash - Burton

Interview: Bertie Ahern
Interview: Bertie Ahern
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Tánaiste Joan Burton has hit out at former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern over a BBC interview in which he suggested 'Joe Soap and Mary Soap' were to blame for the economic crash.

Speaking in Mullingar last night, Ms Burton said she couldn't help noticing Mr Ahern's "particular and peculiar version of the crash".

"Seven years after the devastating crash that Fianna Fáil's policies caused, Bertie Ahern is still trying to blame our people.

"By stark contrast, Labour in Government is trying to make things better for our people."

Mr Ahern came under fire for remarks he made during an interview on BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme.

Mr Ahern suggested that low-pay workers had brought the country to its knees because they got "cocky" and insisted on a "second, third and even fourth home".

Mr Ahern said that the availability of cheap credit through Ireland's involvement in the eurozone created "a huge problem". "Anyone could walk into any institution and seem to get any amount of money, and this is where the cocky bit came in," he said.

"Unfortunately, Joe Soap and Mary Soap, who never had a lot, got the loans for the second house and leveraged the third house off the second house and the fourth on the third, and you know, what are you having yourself. So that was a huge problem."

Mr Ahern's comments come five months after he appeared before the Banking Inquiry - where he appeared to give a different account.

The former Taoiseach told the inquiry the economy was fundamentally sound when he stood down in 2008 - just six months before the start of the recession and the banking crisis.

He told the inquiry it "breaks my heart" that the last few years had been extremely tough on many ordinary families.

During his appearance, Mr Ahern admitted he did make mistakes "but so does everybody who governs".

"Of course, I apologise for my mistakes but I am also pleased that I did get a lot of things right," he said.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Ahern's comments caused outrage with listeners of RTE's 'Liveline' show.

"What's the responsibility of government, if not to regulate? It sure isn't to blame the ordinary punter," one irate caller said. "It is clear now that, [Bertie] has no interest in the ordinary Joe and Mary soap any more, unless he wants to use them as a scapegoat."

Irish Independent

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