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Bertie: I'd absolutely nothing to do with the bank guarantee

The former taoiseach said he had “long left government” by the time of the September 2008 guarantee. He was gone four months.

Bertie Ahern leaving the banking inquiry in July
Bertie Ahern leaving the banking inquiry in July
Image: Eamonn Farrell

BERTIE AHERN SAID he had “absolutely nothing to do” with the 2008 bank guarantee at a book launch in Dublin tonight.

The former taoiseach was speaking at the launch of ’Power Play: The Rise of Modern Sinn Féin‘ by the former Irish Times political correspondent Deaglán de Breádún.

The 2008 blanket guarantee of the Irish banking system was issued just four months after Ahern left office and his successor Brian Cowen and the Fianna Fáil government sought to deal with the unfolding economic crisis.

In a wide-ranging speech, Ahern discussed Sinn Féin’s approach to the guarantee – which it supported but has since opposed – but said he personally didn’t know anything about the controversial measure.

“I have to say, I didn’t know anything about the bank guarantee because I was long left government,” he said to laughter among the audience, adding:

I had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Ahern has previously said the hardest thing he had to tackle was the banking crisis and joked that it was the reason he went grey in just six months.

Appearing before the banking inquiry last July, Ahern apologised for the mistakes his government made between 1997 and 2008, but insisted that he got “a lot of things right”.

Of course, I apologise for my mistakes, but I am also pleased that I did get a lot of things right.

On whether he should have foreseen the crisis, he insisted to the inquiry: “If hindsight was foresight, I’d be a billionaire.”

Several prominent political figures attended the book launch in Hodges Figgis tonight, including former Fianna Fáil ministers Éamon Ó Cuív and Martin Mansergh, and former justice minister Nora Owen.

Councillor Eoin Ó Broin was the only notable Sinn Féin figure in attendance and was one of the interviewees for de Breádún’s book.

Ahern acknowledged the rise of Sinn Féin in his speech, noting that in his old constituency of Dublin Central,  the party will be disappointed if they don’t get 25% of the vote at the next election.

Ahern said this was the “evolution of democratic process that they have followed” and described it as “an extraordinary success story” for Sinn Féin.

Read: Why is Bertie really really very worried?

Read: 13 great Bertieisms at the banking inquiry

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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