Exclusive: Taoiseach says he 'misspoke' about bank bailout 'in the heat of battle'

Exclusive: Taoiseach says he 'misspoke' about bank bailout 'in the heat of battle'

“Essentially I was making the point that the shareholders...themselves weren’t bailed out," Mr Martin said 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has clarified comments he made in the Dáil yesterday 'in the heat of battle'.

While speaking to Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett, Mr Martin said that the banks were not bailed out.

Speaking to The Echo today, Mr Martin clarified: “I misspoke yesterday in the Dáil and made a mistake in terms of how I articulated it.

“Essentially I was making the point that the shareholders...themselves weren’t bailed out.

“But obviously the banks, there was a huge rescue package for the banks, of course there was we know that, in terms of both protecting depositors and protecting bond holders,” he said.

In 2010, Irish banks were given upwards of €64 billion in State liquidity, borrowed from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The figure, then equal to 40% of Ireland's economy, will continue to be paid for generations to come.

Clarifying further, Mr Martin added that he was concerned there was an impression being given that the Government are only looking after the wealthiest in society, which he said is not the case.

Mr Martin was speaking in the Dáil yesterday in the context of the Debenhams workers, who were very “shabbily and badly treated by their employers,” he said.

However, the Taoiseach added he “didn’t like the presentation that the ‘far left’ have been making that somehow government wasn’t doing anything for them, or government was ignoring them”.

Asked if the government had done enough to assist Debenhams workers seeking a redundancy package, he said: “I think we have done everything we possibly can within the law, that’s the problem really.

“What’s giving me a sense of anger is I think those on the opposite side know that too but have certainly created the idea that an awful lot more could be done which couldn’t be done.

“You can’t legally interfere with a liquidation. The government can’t legally tell revenue to forget about its obligations or indeed social protection.

“In fact the government is the only party to all this that stood up to the plate in terms of at least doing The statutory redundancy which was €13m in this case.”

It is understood Mr Martin is currently awaiting the results of a second Covid-19 test, after French president Emmanual Macron tested positive. 

The two met in Europe last week, although the Taoiseach has already had one negative test since his return to Ireland. It is understood Mr Martin is postponing engagements and restricting his movements as he awaits the outcome of the second test. 

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