Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has been slammed by opposition politicians after claiming that the country went on a ‘mad borrowing’ spree that led to the collapse of the Celtic Tiger.
Kenny has effectively blamed the crisis on Joe public – seven weeks after he told the nation ‘you are not responsible’ for the economic crash.
Speaking just days after the government repaid almost $1.5 billion to unsecured bond holders with the failed Anglo Irish Bank, Kenny made the remarks to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
Kenny’s controversial comments came as he tried to explain how Ireland’s economy went from boom to a spectacular bust.
“What happened in our country was that people simply went mad borrowing and the extent of personal credit, personal wealth created on credit was done between people, banks, a system that spawned greed, to a point where this went out of control completely with a spectacular crash,” he said.
“The country borrowed over €60bn at excessive rates and the IMF eventually came and the troika.”
Kenny then added that the recent General Election gave the Fine Gael-Labor Party coalition government a mandate to sort out the problems and explain the reality of the scale of the challenge.
“The reason why the eurozone crisis has stumbled along was due to incompetence by some governments and interminable wrangling between institutions and governments,” he added.
Opposition parties have rounded on Kenny after Fine Gael’s latest gaffe.
Fianna Fail spokesman Niall Collins said: Enda Kenny is clearly taking one approach at home and another abroad.
“While he’s here, the priority is media management and preserving popularity. When he is abroad, the priority appears to be to avoid putting the blame where it belongs.
“Where was the Taoiseach’s (PM) harsh criticism of European banks which helped flood Ireland with credit for years? He should be standing up for the Irish people and challenging the role of the banks when he has the chance.”
Sinn Fein’s Padraig Mac Lochlainn was also highly critical of Kenny. He said: This is an outrageous analysis. The Taoiseach (PM) is blaming the Irish people for a crash caused by aggressive lenders and greedy banks.
“This analysis that people in Ireland went drunk with credit, were reckless and they have to now be cleansed by a decade of austerity is very worrying.”