There was a lot of copy written both before and after the BBC documentary, the Bail Out Boys come to Dublin compiled by the Irish Times’ writer, Dan O’Brien.
But listening to it there are a few accounts in that programme that seem to conflict with Mr Lenihan’s headline grabbing, not to mention rather simplifying suggestion that the measures were not necessary and the ECB forced him (not to mention the rest of the country) into taking the money.
It also rather conveniently seeks to put the current government somewhat offside, and his own party in a convenient place for it’s oncoming role as official opposition.
Patrick Honohan governor of the Central Bank:
Perhaps Irish people expected, as we have got in the past from Europe, a hand out. From my point of view this is the right and necessary thing to do. There is a couple of years of hard work ahead and we now need move ahead and try to make sure that the longer term problems are resolved.
Klaus Masuch, the chief negotiator for the European Central Bank:
The Irish government decided on its own to seek help. We’re not pushing, we are advising the government. It is important for the people to realise that the programme is the consequence of bad policies in the past. This programme does not cause further problems, it solves problems. We have not pushed anybody.
And finally, Mr Lenihan himself:
It would be fair to that the major force of pressure for a bailout came from the ECB, yes, I would say that. I had fought for two and a half years to avoid this conclusion and now we were at it. As I said earlier I saw that Ireland’s financial survival was very much an issue from late 2008 on.
I had had a tremendous struggle to bring my colleagues and the country with me on a very difficult economic programme. I believed that I had fought the good fight and taken every measure possible to delay such an eventuality and now hell was at the gates.
I have a very vivid memory of going to Brussels on the final Monday to sign the agreement and being on my own at the airport and looking at the snow gradually thawing and thinking to myself ‘this is terrible, no Irish Minister has ever had to do this before’. It is not a good position to be in.
As Dan O’Brien, notes towards the end of the programme, the bailout does not seem to be working (at least in its intent to stop contagion)… Is Mr Lenihan trying to unstick himself (or rather his party) from his own tar baby in the hopes that it will now stick more visibly to his successor, Mr Noonan of Fine Gael?