Michéal Martin: bank guarantee was least worst option
FF leader says party’s mistakes were to lower taxes and increase spending
Michéal Martin: bank guarantee was ‘least worst’ action
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has reiterated his support for the bank guarantee introduced by his government five years ago this weekend.
He said in retrospect it may have been too narrow. “But I would still hold the view... that it was the least worst option at the time.”
He believed if the bank guarantee was not offered, the situation could have been much worse.
The real issue was that “€36 billion of unsecured bonds have been honoured by this Government”, he told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme.
He said the fundamental mistake his party made in government was to lower taxes and increase expenditure by too much. “My own view, particularly in relation to health and the ageing population, was that there should have been a ring-fenced health levy,” he said.
“I would not have been a great advocate for the massive tax reductions that happened.”
But he rejected accusations from a listener of a political “flip flop” on issues such as the abolition of the Seanad and the introduction of a property tax.
During an interview and phone-in, Mr Martin said the anger Fianna Fáil faced at the last general election had dissipated. He was on the doorsteps two or three nights a week and while there was still anger, people were more concerned about issues such as students getting into college.
When asked about the death of his seven-year-old daughter at the time of the last election, Mr Martin said his family was still grieving and he did not like to talk about it.
During the interview, he acknowledged the then government created too lax a regulatory system but said they were supported politically on all sides and there was a flawed view at the time that the market would decide and correct.
Asked by one listener if he believed people were “waiting in the long grass” for former government members still in the Dáil, he said his party was introducing new blood and young candidates. “The people will decide at the next election,” he said.
When asked if former Fianna Fáil minister Mary Hanafin should be allowed run for next year’s European parliament election, the party leader said “that will be a matter for the members of the party”.
Over 20,000 people were signed up to the party as members and the “one person one vote” reforms agreed by the party’s ardfheis would decide candidates for Europe and the Dáil.