Tuesday 12 December 2017

James Downey: Still counting the cost of calamitous bank decision

YESTERDAY marked the third anniversary of one of the most calamitou decisions ever taken by an Irish government. On the night of September 29, 2008 and into the small hours of September 30, Brian Cowen and the late Brian Lenihan heeded the slogan "save the banks", and since then we have learnt the cost.

At 6am on September 30 the chancellor of the British exchequer Alistair Darling heard the news on the radio. He records his shock in his recently published memoirs. It was shared by other finance ministers in Europe and around the world.

Darling rang Lenihan. The call does not appear to have matched, shall we say, the normal standards of friendliness and co-operation. Although Darling writes in restrained -- excessively restrained -- language, we know that he and his continental counterparts felt that the Irish had "sprung one" on them and would give them all serious trouble.

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