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I'm glad I didn't say sorry for Liveline bank 'panic' – Duffy

IT was slammed as the "single most destructive broadcast ever" at the height of the banking crisis.

But almost five years later, broadcaster Joe Duffy says he feels vindicated for broadcasting an edition of Liveline in which callers talked about moving their life savings from the banks to the post office.

At the time, Government sources said the programme could have sparked a "run on the banks", namely Anglo.

In the days after the broadcast, the then Fianna Fail Minister Dick Roche claimed that Duffy should be made apologise publicly.

The controversial programme also prompted then Minister For Finance Brian Lenihan TD to call RTE director general Cathal Goan to complain.

However, Duffy said he had been unaware of the high level intervention until the following Sunday when a newspaper ran a story, titled Lenihan Lash At Joe Duffy Bank Panic, which quoted the late minister.

But the callers to Liveline had been right all along, with recorded phone calls of Anglo Irish bankers revealing this week that the high level executives, such as John Bowe and Peter Fitzgerald, themselves knew banks were in trouble.

 

CONTROVERSIAL

Incidentally, their conversation regarding whether Anglo would be nationalised was recorded on September 18 – the same day as the controversial Liveline broadcast.

"I'm glad I didn't apologise then and I'm definitely not apologising now.

"I stood over that programme then and now. The callers that day had been on the money, their instincts that things were that much worse than what they were being told, were right," Joe Duffy told the Herald.

The Liveline edition had been prompted by a postmaster ringing in to say that, despite assurances from bankers and politicians that there was nothing to worry about, savers were withdrawing their money from banks and putting them into the post office.

More calls followed from anxious savers worried about their deposits, prompting a direct call from Minister Brian Lenihan to call RTE director general Cathal Goan to complain.

"I didn't know about that call until the Sunday papers, all I got that day was a garbled message from the then Head of Radio Adrian Moynes."

He added: "Everyone had a pop at us at the time, it was called the single most destructive broadcast ever but it's been proved the public didn't believe the message that there was nothing to worry about."

hnews@herald.ie


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