Tuesday 16 January 2018

Cowen clings to belief we can just muddle through

Government policy is dictated by wishful thinking that global recovery will answer all our problems, writes Alan Ruddock

This week will see another significant victory for good sense and for Brian Lenihan, the Minister for Finance, and another incremental defeat for Taoiseach Brian Cowen, when the Cabinet finally concedes that there is an urgent need for an inquiry into the collapse of Ireland's banking system.

It won't be presented that way, for obvious reasons. Cowen's spin doctors will claim that he has always been in favour of an inquiry, but just wanted to get the timing and the remit right. Lenihan's spin team will claim that there has never been division between Taoiseach and finance minister and that all is sweetness and light at the Cabinet's table.

Believe who you like, but all the indicators point, once again, at a reluctant Cowen, dragged towards a decision from which he recoils instinctively. Inquiries, which carry the inevitability of disclosure and blame, as well as the possibility of coherent explanation, do not appeal to the man who was minister for finance while the bubble expanded and then burst.

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