Cowen takes swipe at Kenny's 10-year remark


POLITICAL ROW:THE TAOISEACH and the leader of Fine Gael have become embroiled in a row over Enda Kenny’s claim that he would need 10 years in power to put the economy to rights.

Speaking to reporters on the first day of the Fianna Fáil “think-in” at a Galway hotel yesterday, Mr Cowen said: “It could take him 20 years by the way he’s going on at the moment.”

Dismissing the Fine Gael leader’s claim out of hand, the Taoiseach said: “I don’t know how long it would take Enda, depending on the policies he pursues. At the moment, we don’t have a policy agenda from him that’s coherent.”

In response to a question as to how long it would take the Government, Mr Cowen confined himself to an observation that the International Monetary Fund and the Economic and Social Research Institute were predicting growth for the Irish economy next year.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said later that 10 years was “a very long time”.

He added: “Certainly if given the chance I will have this problem sorted out, and this Government will have this problem sorted out a lot earlier than 10 years.”

Mr Kenny said Mr Cowen had been “the worst minister for finance in the history of the State”.

He added that the Taoiseach was “the last person that we can trust when is comes to economic matters”, claiming that Mr Cowen represented “a failed past”.

Mr Kenny said: “Along with Bertie Ahern, and latterly with Brian Lenihan, [Brian Cowen] has been the ever-present presence at the top of Government when our country was being destroyed by bad policies, bad banking practice and invisible regulatory oversight.

“He is the last person that we can trust when it comes to economic matters.

“It is clear that he is in denial about the chaos he, Ahern and Lenihan have created.

“Brian Cowen is the last person who should be engaged in economic forecasting since all his predictions for the Irish economy . . . have been drastically wrong.

“Fine Gael is the only party with a comprehensive and positive plan to rebuild our country and begin to get our people back to work the moment we get to implement our policies,” Mr Kenny added.