Taoiseach stands over claim that ‘banks were not bailed out’

Boyd Barrett cites bailout in issue over redundancy for former Debenhams workers

The Taoiseach has stood over his claim that “the banks were not bailed out” during the economic crash over a decade ago because shareholders lost their investments.

Micheál Martin’s spokeswoman on Wednesday night said it was “clearly not the case” that bank owners and shareholders were bailed out.

The issue arose during a debate on the problems former Debenhams employees are having in securing redundancy payments. People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett criticised the Government for not providing funds for the workers for fear of setting a precedent.

The Dún Laoghaire TD said the Fianna Fáil-Green Party government had no issue bailing out banks to the tune of €64 billion after the crash.

Mr Martin said: “I’ll talk to you about the banks. The banks were not bailed out. Shareholders in the banks were not bailed out. The State took equity. The shareholders were not bailed out. That’s not a popular thing to say, but it is a fact.”

Mr Boyd Barrett insisted “they were” and that there was “no moral hazard” or “worry about the implications” of doing so.

Asked about Mr Martin’s comments, his spokeswoman said: “The Taoiseach was responding in a debate to insinuations that the owners and shareholders in banks were bailed out by the taxpayer.

“As he stated, this was clearly not the case. Many shareholders lost everything or nearly everything.

“The State injected equity into the banks so the banking system could continue to function to protect jobs and support economic recovery.”

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is a parliamentary reporter with The Irish Times