Ahern says 'incompetent' media should be investigated


FORMER TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern has called for an investigation into the media for what he said were failures to follow the economy because journalists were more concerned with following his dealings with the Mahon tribunal.

Mr Ahern said that from the time he began evidence to the tribunal, the media “just stopped following the economy”.

In an interview on Dublin City University’s radio station DCU FM, he said: “There should be an investigation into it. They should have been following the economy from August 2007, but they weren’t, they were following me. I think a lot of these guys really should have looked at themselves.

“The government were following the economy but the media weren’t. It was a very poor job by the media really. They were shown to be incompetent and that was the trouble – everything was on me.”

The interview was recorded during the summer but was broadcast for the first time last night.

On the economy, Mr Ahern said there was “not a lot” he would have done differently.

“People say now that we shouldn’t have been spending so much – my answer to them who say if we didn’t spend so much and if we had saved money we wouldn’t have had the banking crisis, well that’s nonsense, because the demands were there all the time,” he said.

On the Department of Finance’s reports on the economy, Mr Ahern said: “In fairness, the Department of Finance give you warnings about everything”.

Asked if the government had taken the advice “with a pinch of salt”, he said: “Yeah, we did. We ended up building half a million houses. I mean if we didn’t build half a million houses, people would have ended up living on the side of the bloody street and the Department of Finance would still be saying ‘don’t build houses’.”

The former taoiseach and TD for Dublin Central was asked about being linked to a presidential bid. “Well, I think if the party popularity didn’t go south, I mean I still would have done alright.”

“I mean they have done some figures, I would probably sit in around 30 per cent, which you haven’t a hope with as the party is on 20 per cent. If it was the other way around, if you were on 30 per cent and the party was on 40 per cent, you would be hoping the party would pull you in but there’s no hope that I could win.”