Tuesday 21 May 2019

'Joe and Mary Soap are scapegoats' - Fury as Bertie Ahern blames 'cocky' low-paid workers for crash

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

David Kearns and Kevin Doyle

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s attempt to blamed “Joe and Mary Soap” for the country’s financial meltdown drew the ire of Liveline today as many brand his comments about Ireland “living on credit” as disgusting.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on  Sunday the ex-Fianna Fáil leader said low pay workers had brought country to its knees because they got “cocky” and insisted on “second, third and even fourth homes”.

Mr Ahern said that the availability of cheap credit through Ireland’s involvement in the eurozone created “a huge problem”.

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“Anyone could walk into any institution and seem to get any amount of money and this is where the cocky bit came in.

“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.”

The Tanaiste Joan Burton was also critical of Mr Ahern's comments.

Ms Burton said she couldn’t help noticing Mr Ahern’s “particular version of the crash”.

“In that particular - and peculiar - version, it was all Joe Soap’s fault, or Mary Soap’s fault,” she said in Mullingar tonight.

“Seven years after the devastating crash that Fianna Fail’s policies caused, Bertie Ahern is still trying to blame our people.   

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

Outrage followed the former Taoiseach latest assessment of the crash, and earlier today on RTÉ Liveline it continued with callers describing his ‘Joe and Mary Soap’ comments as “disgusting”.

“I was sickened, I remember seeing Bertie Ahern when I was working up near the East wall and back then he was always the people’s Taoiseach,” said caller Peter.

“Now he’s going around blaming the crash on every Mary and Joe Soap, saying they brought three or four houses.

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“Well there were a few people who bought three or four houses but Bertie Ahern is trying to tar everyone with the same brush.”

Furious at the comments, Peter (55) said it was another attempt by the former Taoiseach to deflect blame away from his government.

“What’s the responsible of government, if not to regulate – it sure isn’t to blame the ordinary punter.

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“It is clear now that, [Bertie] has no interest in the ordinary Joe and Mary soap anymore, unless he wants to use them as a scapegoat.

“It’s disgusting.”

Peter’s comments on Liveline echod those of many others today, with a lot of social media users also taking offence at the former Taoiseach’s comments.

“Listening to Bertie Ahern, you'd swear he was not in charge for recession,” said one Twitter user.

“As if he was one who suffered! Butter wouldn't melt,” said another.

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