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Sunday 19 November 2017

Gilmore condemns Cowen's 'stunning failure' on economy

The Taoiseach's staunch defence to business leaders on his handling of the economy did a grave injustice to those hit by the crippling effects of the recession, it was claimed today.

In another Dail attack on Brian Cowen's economic record, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore claimed he had abdicated responsibility for the crisis.

Mr Gilmore hit out for a second time over the Taoiseach's lengthy address to the North Dublin Chamber of Commerce and said he failed to listen to warnings about over-inflated house prices and the consequences of light-touch regulation.

"You described it last Thursday as a stunning failure of corporate governance," Mr Gilmore said.

"It was a stunning failure, Taoiseach. It was a stunning failure of Government and a stunning failure, particularly by yourself, because you were the guy in charge as Minister for Finance during all that period of time."

Mr Cowen's speech last week was one of the strongest defences of his economic record to date, sparking criticisms from opposition parties.

The Taoiseach claimed no independent body warned about the banking crisis and scale of recession before it hit.

But Mr Cowen also stressed he always accepted his responsibilities.

In the Dail, Mr Gilmore outlined a raft of warnings given about the housing market dating back to August 2003 from economists, stockbrokers, the International Monetary Fund and OECD.

"It's bad enough that the Taoiseach, both in his capacity as Taoiseach and in his capacity as Minister for Finance and his Fianna Fail Government have ruined the Irish economy," Mr Gilmore said.

"But it is really adding insult to injury to come around and to say you had nothing to do with it, that it was all somebody else's fault ... the fact of the matter is you were in Government for the last 13 years and you must take responsibility for what has happened.

"And it is doing a grave injustice to all of those people who have suffered severely as a result of what you have done to come around with this kind of self-justification that you have engaged in last Thursday."

But Mr Cowen hit back, claiming it was not right to say the scale of the downturn could have been forecast.

"It is not correct to suggest that the mid-term prospects for the Irish economy would see us facing the situation we faced in the last two years," Mr Cowen said.

"And there is no doubt that a small and open economy like ours has been greatly affected and more adversely affected than most."

Earlier, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny claimed the Government's banking strategy to assist small business had failed.

The Taoiseach said recapitalising the banks was necessary to fix the banking system.

But Mr Kenny branded bad-bank Nama a secretive organisation set up by the Taoiseach.

"The costs being delivered to accountants and lawyers in there will make the tribunals look like chicken feed the way this is proceeding," he said.

Press Association

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