herald

Sunday 24 September 2017

Enda makes U-turn on 'mad' remarks as ministers back him

UNDER fire Enda Kenny has rowed back on his controversial remarks that the country "went mad" during the boom -- insisting once again the economic crisis is not our fault.

The Taoiseach was today hoping the comments -- which were made to an influential foreign audience -- will be forgotten about when he faces the opposition in the Dail next week.

But his claim that "people went mad borrowing" in a system that spawned greed, went out of control and crashed provoked an angry reaction from the public.

Several ministers came out in his defence saying the Taoiseach had no cause to apologise.

However, a number of people in both Fine Gael and Labour described the comments as "ill-judged" and "disastrous".



CLARIFY

It was yesterday evening before the Taoiseach clarified his remarks, which attracted serious criticism.

In an interview carried on TV3 News last night, he said it was developers who "brought our country over the edge".

"I made it perfectly clear in my state of the nation address to the people that it was not the people's fault. Yesterday, in a panel discussion with the Danish prime minister and the Finish Prime Minister I set in context what happened in Ireland. We had very poor regulation. We had incompetent government. We had a system in the banking regime that paid big bonuses on volume lending which meant that developers in a sense of buying and proposing schemes that could never be paid for by people brought our country over the edge."

However, TDs in both parties have privately conceded that the comments were a PR disaster for the Government.

One senior coalition TD told the Herald: "He put his foot in it. He probably didn't realise what sort of storm it would cause back home."

Another backbencher described the comments as "ill-judged" but slammed the opposition for "acting like hawks".

"The comments were ill-judged, there's no doubt about that. But the opposition are just looking for something to use against us. Much worse things were said by previous ministers. They're acting like hawks these days."



APOLOGY

Ministers from both parties came out in a flurry yesterday to defend Mr Kenny, claiming there are no grounds for an apology.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said: "It's very clear that he understands and he's explaining the story of what happened in Ireland.

"And the story is of course rooted in, probably, in a group of what less than 10,000 people did -- the bankers and developers -- who did lose the run of themselves."

And Health Minister James Reilly said he "fully supports" the Taoiseach's stance.

"There's absolutely no doubt people were encouraged by reckless lenders and banks to borrow.

" And encouraged further by the government of the day who created anxiety saying 'get on the ladder quickly you're going to miss your chance'."

hnews@herald.ie

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