| 6.3°C Dublin

I had to lead when Cowen went into hiding, says Brian

BRIAN Lenihan effectively accused his ex-boss Brian Cowen of going into hding in the depths of crisis.

He was "disappointed" with Cowen and had to cover for him, the former Finance Minister says today.

He'd expected Cowen to give a "stronger" lead than he did.

Mr Lenihan also revealed he had not sought the finance portfolio and even argued with Mr Cowen over his appointment.

However, the two Fianna Fail colleagues had a "good working relationship", he insisted.

"I had a good working relationship with Brian Cowen around the Cabinet table but I was disappointed," the Dublin West TD said in an interview with a local newspaper.

"I felt that when he was elected Taoiseach he would give a stronger lead and express himself in a more forthright way about the problems facing the country.

"I felt that I had to give a lot of that lead and give those forthright expressions myself, along with everything else," he added.

Mr Cowen appointed Mr Lenihan as Minister for Finance when he took over in 2008.

However, Mr Lenihan -- who was Justice Minister at the time -- had argued with his leader over the move.

"When the Government was formed in 2007 I was delighted to be appointed to the Department of Justice. I had a tremendous 11 months there.

"When Brian Cowen was appointed Taoiseach, he asked me to be Minister for Finance. I did not seek the job and I did argue with him at the time but he asked me to do it and you don't refuse a prime minister when he asks you to do a job," Mr Lenihan told the Community Voice.

He said he was unable to challenge Mr Cowen's leadership because of his responsibilities as Finance Minister.

"I was aware that essentially I was the financial controller of Ireland and that Ireland was in very choppy waters and any political move of mine could have destabilised the finances of the country," he added.

"... I was very conscious of the fact that if I withdrew my support from the Government it had the danger of bringing down the financial stability of the country with it," he said.

comurphy@herald.ie