“But we don’t all have crystal balls.”

No, nothing to do with portraitgate. An iol report refers to an Irish government budget deficit of €16billion. But perhaps that doesn’t take into account some recent Irish economic news.. or, maybe, that’s just part of Charlie McCreevy’s great British conspiracy.. ANYway.. RTÉ reports warning sounds from several Ministers.

Mr Cowen added that the model of taxation would have to be adapted to suit the new circumstances. Speaking before today’s meeting, Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe said the budget is taking shape. He said the meeting was an important one and that the Government would probably take a look at the overall shape of what it intends to do and then come to final conclusions. Minister O’Keefe added that the Government is very anxious to achieve a ‘proper balance’ in the budget and to treat people equally across the board. Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said this is not like a ‘typical budget’. He said it is a ‘very difficult’ situation when the country costs €55bn to run and there is only €34bn in tax returns.

[€55bn – €34bn = ? – Ed] Indeed.
The Irish Times has the qualified apology from the former Finance Minister

Mr Cowen offered a qualified apology for the mistakes of the past.

“Do take responsibility for some of the decisions that I have taken? I take all the responsibility for all of the decisions that I have taken in my public life. And they were taken by me on the basis of the best possible advice available to me at the time. Are there changes that I would contemplate were I to know now that we would be in this position? Of course, there’d be different decisions that you would take. But we don’t all have crystal balls. We can’t all see into the future with great accuracy,” he said

“ But all of the decisions that we took were taken on the basis of the best advice at the time. Do I regret? I regret anyone that is unemployed in this country; I regret the fact that anyone is facing anxiety and concerns. Of course I do. Am I fully responsible for that? No. But do I take my share of responsibility in respect of it. Of course I do. I have never suggested otherwise.”

“If I was the sole contributor to this, I would have the solution today to get out of it. There is a global, wider context to this.”

“We did create more employment than anybody else. We did have these improvements. We did halve our debt. We did increase our social welfare payments well beyond the cost of living. We did a lot of good things,” he said.