Government prevented a 'catastrophe' - Cowen

AN TAOISEACH Brian Cowen gave a trenchant defence of his record as Taoiseach and Minister for Finance when speaking to the Leinster Express in Portlaoise this week.

AN TAOISEACH Brian Cowen gave a trenchant defence of his record as Taoiseach and Minister for Finance when speaking to the Leinster Express in Portlaoise this week.

Mr Cowen insisted that this Government always put the country first whether it was cutting spending or saving the banks.

"We have always stood to promote the common good and the common good for Ireland over the past three of four years was to have a Government that would make decisions and we made them," he said.

Mr Cowen insisted that the country would have "went under" had the proposals made by the opposition parties been implemented. He said the four year plan must be implemented in full for the country to recover and there were already signs of that recovery.

He said reports have shown that the banking crisis was caused by irresponsible lending and failings in the national and EU regulatory system. He said his Government had taken steps to save the banks which in turn saved thousands of jobs and prevented the "catastrophic and cataclysmic" situation of people not being able to got to their ATMs to withdraw cash.

He said the "negativity industry" which included opposition parties has been suggesting that the country would not recover.

"I believe we will. I believe that the Irish people has always met adversity on the basis of the leadership we are providing, People sometimes try to suggest what we are trying to achieve over the past 10 to 15 years was an illusion. I very much challenge that," he said.

He pointed to the E.25 bill investment made Laois national roads through the National Development Plan as evidence of this. He said one of the proudest achievements he was associated with as Minister for Finance was the five year plan for people with disabilities. He said resources for carers have risen seven fold and medical cards He said substance was important and pointed to the Government's reining in of public spending and its national recovery plan. He also claimed credit for his role in bringing peace to the North as Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

He pledged his full support to the future FF leader as he had given to previous leaders. Mr Cowen said he was very gratified by the support and solidarity of colleagues during a very difficult period.