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Ahern attacks Cowen's handling of crisis

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern yesterday criticised his successor Brian Cowen's handling of the economic crisis.

The ex-Fianna Fail leader also questioned if the Government had examined all its options before the European Union and International Monetary Fund bailout.

Mr Ahern, a columnist for the News of The World, told the newspaper Mr Cowen's administration had failed to communicate properly with the public throughout the crisis.

He said he carried out daily doorstep interviews with the media when he led the country but that came to a stop when he handed over the baton.

"The Taoiseach should be communicating the information that he has," he said.

"These aren't secrets, I don't consider them state secrets.

"And for whatever reason, two and a half years ago, the pattern that I had established stopped and they decided only to do rare ones."

The Dublin Central TD added: "If you ask me, my view is you're better doing it my way, but he opted not to do that."

Mr Ahern, who announced on Thursday night he would stand down from his Dail seat at the forthcoming General Election, said he wondered during the Greek bailout what plans the Government and Central Bank were making to ensure Ireland didn't follow suit.

The 59-year-old said he did not know if all the options had been examined early-on and that a bailout may have been averted if action was taken on the public finances earlier.

Mr Ahern also said he would like to run for President but admitted it was "not too realistic" at the moment to hope to get elected as a Fianna Fail figure.

© Press Association