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Bertie Ahern says he received a rope and noose in the post after leaving office

The former Taoiseach said he could not take responsibility for the failings of the Central Bank and Financial Regulator.

BERTIE AHERN LIVE M#227320C Source: Maxwell Photography

BERTIE AHERN HAS said today that he cannot take responsibility for the failings of the Central Bank or Financial Regulator as it was not under his remit as leader of the country.

Speaking to Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio One the former Taoiseach disagreed that he was responsible for what went on in the two authorities.

Take no responsibility

“No, unfortunately I have no responsibility for the Central Bank.”

He added that the Financial Regulator is also independent.

“It is the government’s job to look after the fiscal responsibilities, government do not tell banks who to give money to.”

Ahern said while his Cabinet brought in the legislation for the regulator, the government had no control over it.

He said there are people who want to believe that he knew what each developer owed to the banks.

16/7/2015. Bertie Ahern leavess Banking Inquiry to Source: Eamonn Farrell

The Taoiseach, nor me, or Brian Cowen or Enda Kenny has any idea of what individuals owe or what their companies owe.

“We were totally detached,” he said, adding:

“The Central Bank and Regulator are entirely independent from the political system.”

He said he was “horrified” to hear there were only a handful of staff regulating the banks. “There was not a good job done of regulation.”

He apologised to the people of Ireland stating that he felt particularly bad for those that had lost their jobs and homes.

“I was head of government… if you’re the head you’re the head.”

Ahern said two issues “brought us down in the end”.

Taxation and construction 

He admitted that too much taxation related to the construction industry left the budget exposed. “Yes, I take responsibility for that.”

Secondly, he said the banks had given out borrowings and didn’t have enough capital to back it.

When asked about his close relationship with those in the construction industry, Ahern said Fianna Fáil was close to everybody, borrowers and businesses both big and small.

“Yes we did get money from property developers… big and small and so did Fine Gael.”

He said donations were not about getting accessibility to him, stating that as leader it is important to keep close to every organisation.

“If they went to Fagans pub they would have got accessibility to me. Some people say I was too accessible.”
“I met everyone from every walk of life. I was photographed with half the country and I was proud to meet everyone of them, be they big or small.”

Ahern said he met with construction lobby groups at the time as they employed almost a quarter of a million people.

He said the “recession bit hard on people” but said he believed that his government did a lot of things right.

When asked why he did not heed the warnings of a hard landing, he said the experts he was listening to like the EU and the IMF were all predicting growth and soft landings.

“The fact is that taxes at that level weren’t sustainable.”

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16/7/2015. Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at Leinst

Mahon Tribunal 

Speaking about the Mahon Tribunal he said Judge Alan Mahon got it wrong.

That’s his problem. He is wrong, I hope he feels happy in his mind as I do in mine.
They were wrong then, wrong now and will be wrong until the day I die.

He added that all the evidence he gave in the Mahon Tribunal was 100% right.

He admitted that during his time giving evidence he was going through marital issues adding “some of the things I did were fairly bizarre, I don’t deny that”.

“I did nothing wrong,” he said, adding that he just wanted to move on with his life.

He added that he was sorry he ever met Tom Gilmartin and Owen O’Callaghan.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Before Banking Inquiry Today. End. Source: Eamonn Farrell

Speaking about the years since leaving office, he said he has received some hate mail over the years.

“I got some horrendous mail and threatening calls, but gardaí got the bottom of it.”

He added that he also got sent a rope and noose in the post. “That wasn’t too nice.”

He said the “vicious mail” he got was in the minority.

The former Taoiseach would not be drawn on whether he would be interested in getting back into politics, but said he believed Micheál Martin was doing a good job as party leader.

Ahern also said he wanted to pay special tribute to the late Brian Lenihan, who he said a huge gratitude is owed.

“He worked every hour the Lord gave him. The country should always remember him… in a horrendous economy and faced with is illness he did heroic work.”

Read: 13 great Bertieisms at the banking inquiry>

Read: 9 things we learned from Bertie at the banking inquiry>

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