Saturday 18 January 2020

Not all bankers to blame for collapse, says Bruton

Former Taoiseach John Bruton: Home Rule supporter. Photo: Tom Burke
Former Taoiseach John Bruton: Home Rule supporter. Photo: Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor

FORMER Taoiseach John 
Bruton has claimed some bankers have been treated like "scapegoats" over their role in the economic collapse.

Mr Bruton said that while banks must be held responsible for their "foolish" borrowing and lending practices, he believes the depth of the recent recession was strongly influenced by international factors outside of our control.

The former Fine Gael leader, who is currently the chairman of IFSC Ireland, said that it is important to distinguish between individuals who have broken the law and those who have merely made mistakes.

"Everybody can misjudge the future," he told the Irish Independent.

Mr Bruton attempted to clarify his views on the banks' role in the economic collapse after a video emerged of him claiming that some bankers have been subjected to the same treatment as witches in the 17th Century.

"The populations of Europe are blaming austerity on bankers, and y'know, anonymous forces like that. Almost like in the 17th Century, people blamed witches," he said in the interview which was reported by the Sunday Independent.

Mr Bruton told this newspaper that the comparison to witches was "seized upon" but he did admit that he believes some bankers have been treated like scapegoats.

"I have felt that there is a bit of scapegoating but then there is also blame. But you've got to distinguish between the two forms of blame," he said.

"There is the blame for doing things that are criminal or knowingly wrong for short term gain. And there is the also the blame that attaches to everybody for making misjudgements, everybody can misjudge the future and I think we need to make those distinctions as well," he added.

Mr Bruton said that Ireland's economic woes were caused by a "complex range" of international factors.

He said these included the economic growth experienced by China and India. Mr Bruton said as the Central Banks and the US Federal Reserve tried to mitigate these risks, a series of property bubbles were created.

"I do of course blame the banks for mistakes. But in a sense, the monetary authorities were trying to compensate this loss in market share that the West was suffering plus the fear that the IT bubble bursting and other things would lead to a recession and therefore used the printing of money at that end."

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News