Quotes from Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan

Below are a number of quotes from Minister Brian Lenihan which were reported in the media or said by him in the Dáil since the bank guarantee in September 2008.

Several of them are clearly contradicted by subsequent events*, of which some would be very recent. Others will probably be contradicted by events* to come.

Feel free to add your own in the comment box below or email them to mark[@]thestory[.]ie (remove the brackets). Please provide a link to cite your source. It’s worth keeping a log of these as events* continue.

Irish Times…

“We are not rushing into the banks without knowing precisely what the position is in those banks” – Nov 20 2008

During the Stabilisation of Public Finances debate, Dáil Eireann

In the context of any capitalisation the due diligence exercise will yield further information to enable us to do a far more precise identification of risk before we formulate policy on it. I would be reluctant to commit the taxpayer on any issue connected with risk without a full and definitive assessment of the risk in the institutions themselves and we must await this assessment. – Feb 5 2009

Following the publication of Anglo Irish Bank’s 2009 results. Minister Lenihan said he welcomed the increased scrutiny of Anglo as an opportunity to bring openness to the bank…

“which will ultimately allow us to draw a line under past activities”. “It is an opportunity for Anglo to employ a fully transparent approach to addressing the inappropriate activities that took place at the bank and provide comprehensive details to all stakeholders who deal with Anglo and who deal with Irish financial institutions generally.” – Irish Independent, Feb 21 2009

When challenged as to why he was not nationalising banks (at this time the State had already nationalised Anglo Irish Bank and taken a 25 per cent stake in Bank of Ireland and AIB).

“I do really want to scotch the idea that there are huge risks to the taxpayer in the valuation process because we are not nationalising these institutions.” – Irish Times, May 18 2009

Dáil debate on bank recapitalisation, in a response to Deputy Joan Burton

The valuation procedure as between NAMA and Anglo Irish Bank carries no risk for the taxpayer whatsoever. – May 13 2009.

Nama Bill, Dáil Eireann.

NAMA will ensure that credit flows again to viable businesses and households by cleansing the balance sheets of Irish banks. This is essential for economic recovery and the generation of employment. It will ensure that we avoid the Japanese outcome of zombie banks that are just ticking over and not making a vibrant contribution to economic growth. – Sept 16 2009

Nama Bill, Dáil Eireann.

I am not prepared to contemplate the establishment of an entity that has no responsibility or accountability to this House. – Sept 16 2009

Nama Bill, Dáil Eireann

Nothing in the NAMA legislation will result in more repossessions of family homes. – October 14 2009

On the nationalisation of Anglo, during a debate on banking regulation in the Dáil

This decisive step was taken to safeguard the interest of the depositors of Anglo Irish Bank and the stability of the economy. I want to assure the House that this decisive step was taken to ensure the new nationalised bank will collect all debts due from persons who owe moneys to the institution. – Feb 18 2009

In response to written question from Kathleen Lynch

Taking account of the advice received the Government has proceeded with a comprehensive recapitalisation of Ireland’s two main banks and with the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank. The Government is also in discussions with the other covered institutions, Irish Life & Permanent, Educational Building Society and Irish National Building Society concerning their respective positions. – Feb 18 2009

In response to a written question from Arthur Morgan

The recapitalised banks have reconfirmed their commitment to an extensive credit package which will help to increase lending capacity to small and medium enterprises by 10% and to provide an additional 30% capacity for lending to first time buyers in 2009. The credit package also provides for a €100m environmental and clean energy innovation fund to be established by each bank. All the steps that I have outlined have been taken by the Government to ensure that the public interest is secured so that the financial system in Ireland meets the everyday financial needs of individuals, businesses and the overall economy. – March 26 2009

Written answer to Arthur Morgan

Our approach will facilitate a sustained flow of credit on a commercial basis to individuals, households and businesses in the real economy. – July 8 2009

When questioned on the delays in implementing Nama legislation on Morning Ireland

“We can’t have a lawyers’ bonanza and that is another good reason why we have to get this right.” – May 18 2009

Kicker; written answer to Joan Burton

Arthur Cox solicitors have been engaged by my Department since September 2008 to provide advice in relation to general banking matters including the Bank Guarantee scheme, the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank and the recapitalisation of AIB, Bank of Ireland and Anglo Irish Bank. The company was paid €1,628,024 in 2008 and €2,254,263 has been paid to date in 2009. The sum of €5.4 million has been allocated for legal advice for 2009 and an estimate of €3 million has been set aside for legal advice in 2010.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers was retained by the Financial Regulator in late 2008 to assist the Financial Regulator with a review of the financial and capital positions of Irish banks and to enable the Financial Regulator to advise the Government on what action needed to be taken. The work undertaken involved an initial high level assessment of the capital and liquidity levels of the institutions, stress testing of the institution’s loan portfolios over a three year period, and review the valuation of properties held as collateral against the main property loans.

The total fees paid by the Financial Regulator to the company in respect of the work was €3.8 million, which has been completed. In addition, the Financial Regulator has paid €0.84 million to Jones Lang La Salle for financial and property consultancy services in relation to the Bank Guarantee Scheme.

The National Treasury Management Agency paid a total of €7.3 million to Merrill Lynch for investment banking advice up to 30 June 2009. Following a competitive tender process in July, Rothschild have now been awarded the contract for investment banking advice. The NTMA has also retained an economist however the terms of his contract with the NTMA were agreed on a confidential basis. In addition, following a competitive tender process, the NTMA engaged HSBC and Arthur Cox to provide advice in relation to NAMA. – Sept 22 2009

NOTE: I’ve gone through the Dáil record and archives of the Times and Indo, but haven’t listened to radio or TV interviews. If anyone has a bit of time to go back and listen to a Morning Ireland/Prime Time/The Last Word/Whatever interview… t’would be useful.

* a word members of our Government like to use when scripting excuses for the negative outcomes that result from badly implemented policy or regulation. Usually follows “unforeseen”.

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