Monday 29 May 2017

Bertie deserves credit where due

Sir -- There is a lot of understandable anger aimed at our ex-Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, for our economic, property and banking collapse in 2008/09, bringing our Celtic Tiger to a sudden and dramatic end. Anglo Irish Bank is almost gone, AIB has been nationalised, and Bank of Ireland is just holding its head above water.

Where Bertie and his governments went wrong was in not having any proper or meaningful regulation of our financial sector in the closing years of the Celtic Tiger, leading to our being famously described as the Wild West in that regard. Continuing recruitment of good financial expertise did not really happen in the Department of Finance, causing it to go slow like a barge going down a canal. The seeds of our own destruction were duly sown.

Bertie was, however, correct when he recently said a lot of people had "over-stretched themselves" and that it is now handy for them to blame someone. I would estimate about 40 per cent of the working population went overboard, as it was seen as trendy, to buy apartments to let in Eastern Europe and anywhere, with a fair number wanting to make a quick profit. People did over-extend themselves. Those in otherwise good jobs were tempted into becoming property investors.

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