Tuesday 20 March 2018

Lenihan accused of trying to revise history on bailout

Kenny dismisses claims ECB forced deal on State

Fionnan Sheahan, Emmet Oliver and Lise Hand

THE Government last night dismissed former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's claim that Ireland was forced into last year's bailout by the European Central Bank.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Mr Lenihan's accusations were "his version of events" and he promised an Oireachtas committee would investigate the banking and economic crisis.

A Fine Gael minister also accused Mr Lenihan of "revising history" after he claimed the European Central Bank pressured the country into the €85bn bailout.

And a senior EU source said Mr Lenihan was "in denial".

Mr Lenihan, now Fianna Fail's finance spokesman, also admits to deciding not to tell the public that negotiations on a bailout were happening last November.

At the time, the Government claimed reports of the bailout were "fiction", but Mr Lenihan admitted: "I didn't feel that it would be the appropriate time to alert the public."

Mr Kenny said the economic and banking crisis had left the Government with "a particular legacy that is challenging, to put it mildly.

"I think Brian Lenihan has given some of his version of these events, I don't know exactly what happened at those discussions, but clearly there's a lot more we need to find out," he said.

European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton went further, accusing Mr Lenihan of "revising history".

"It seems to me to be a very clear case of revising history. He is trying to extricate himself and absolve himself from blame," she said.

"He is trying to shift the blame on to any organisation," she added.

Laughing off Mr Lenihan's statements, Ms Creighton said the former minister had failed to give any accurate account to the Irish people during the crisis.

And she also dismissed Mr Lenihan's claim that the Fianna Fail-led Government was a victim of spin.

"I find it hard to believe that any minister involved in the last Government didn't engage in spinning."


Fianna Fail's transport spokesman Timmy Dooley backed up Mr Lenihan's claims as he said there wasn't a requirement for a loan at the time as the State had adequate funding into 2011. He said the then Government believed there was some way to go before funding was needed, but the ECB had a different view.

The European Central Bank declined to comment on Mr Lenihan's claims.

Mr Lenihan said: "The major force of pressure for a bailout came from the ECB."

In a BBC documentary on the bailout, Mr Lenihan also admitted being in negotiations on a bailout when the Government was denying there was any truth to reports of the talks.

"I was in very difficult negotiations. We were simply having exploratory discussions. I didn't feel that it would be the appropriate time to alert the public generally as to the fact we were having such discussions," he said.

"I'd have weakened our diplomatic hand in that regard," he added.

Reality at odds with Lenihan spin

Irish Independent

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