Quotes of Brian Lenihan

Periodically updated as per submissions. Add to the post by submitting it via the comment box below or emailing them to mark[@]thestory[.]ie (remove the brackets). Please provide a link to cite your source.

Updated in November 2010 here, which is the post cited by Vincent Browne in his Irish Times column.

Quotes from Brian Lenihan since the bank guarantee:

On Breakfast with Newstalk, April 26 2010.

First of all, that’s the position in 2009, Eurostat hasn’t decided it yet, that’s our assesment of how they will decide it, we’ll still argue the toss with them. We have to deal with 2010 yet, but let’s assume that you’re right for a minute and that all the €8bn has to be added on in 2010. Let’s assume that. We won’t be borrowing the money, we’ll be borrowing the money over a period of ten or fifteen years. We’ll actually be upfronting – in accountancy terms – the figure, but we will not in fact be borrowing… – April 26 2010.

Also on Breakfast with Newstalk

Now that I’m the shareholder in Irish Nationwide I will clearly ensure that whatever money is owed by Mr Fingleton is paid by Mr Fingleton. – April 26 2010.

Also on Breakfast with Newstalk

BL: No, no, listen, listen. This not good for the country and it’s inaccurate. If next year we’re obliged to include the €8bn, the €8bn will not actually be borrowed next year the device of the promissory note means we borrow…

Ivan Yates: No, I know the promissory note is over ten years. You’re missing the point…

BL: No you’re missing the point! This is an accounting device! This is not real borrowing! What the markets look at is real borrowing. Not accountancy devices… – April 26 2010.

Speaking to media…

“The decisive and bold steps we have taken are not popular; and the honest and full disclosure by the Government and its agencies of the appalling mess we have uncovered within our banks has shocked the nation,” Mr Lenihan told the Dail.  “But I do believe that there is recognition among the citizens that the measures we have taken are necessary. And I believe the work of NAMA in cleaning up the banks’ balance sheets and forcing them and their borrowers to face up to their losses is winning the respect of the public.” – April 21 2010,  Irish Independent

“One of the good things about the steep discount, averaging 47 per cent, is that the residential property market will now be stabilised at a realistic level… You can now buy in confidence that the price is realistic.” – April 4 2010, Irish Independent

[Submitted by CO’D]:

The Financial Regulator has advised that all the financial institutions in Ireland will continue to be subject to normal ongoing  regulatory requirements. This very important initiative by the Government is designed to safeguard the Irish financial system and to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy caused by the recent turmoil in the international financial markets. As far as the question of ‘moral hazard’ is concerned, it will be a priority for the Government to ensure that the highest regulatory standards and standards of corporate governance apply in all of the institutions concerned including in relation to lending practices to safeguard the interests of taxpayers against any risk of financial loss. –Department of Finance statement, September 30 2008

[Submitted by CO’D]: During Dáil debate on credit institutions and financial support,

Olivia Mitchell (FG): We need to see the terms and conditions to know what will happen with regard to these people. Is there any requirement for the banks to restructure their loans? Will they be allowed to make a massive number of repossessions and have fire sales, driving house prices down further and sending the economy into even deeper recession? Has the Government any plan to deal with this?

Brian Lenihan: This is the plan.

Olivia Mitchell: […] However, we need a return to the banks of old — to the image we had of them as being dull, staid, boring, cautious and careful. We no longer have that image. What is the Government’s plan to create the conditions that will ensure this happens? What will happen to restore confidence in the banking system? If we do not restore confidence in the banking system, what the Minister is doing now——. I do not know what the Minister is laughing at.

Brian Lenihan: I am not laughing. I am allowed to smile. – October 1 2008

[Submitted by DC]: As reported by Simon Carswell in The Irish Times…

MINISTER FOR Finance Brian Lenihan has said the bank guarantee scheme was “a necessary first step” and “the cheapest bailout in the world so far”.

Mr Lenihan said the guarantee was “the cheapest bailout” compared with bank rescues in other countries, including the UK and the US, where “billions and billions of taxpayers’ money are being poured into financial institutions” – October 24 2008

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

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

On the housing market in 2008 in speech to Seaned Eireann.

However, what we do know is that the underlying demand for housing remains strong, driven by a relatively young population and continued inward migration. While we may experience a year or two of sub-50,000 completions, it is reasonable to expect over the medium term that annual completions will return to sustainable levels which will remain high by international standards, reflecting the strong underlying demand for housing in Ireland – May 14 2008

To the Irish Independent, on housing prices…

One of the good things about the steep discount, averaging 47 per cent, is that the residential property market will now be stabilised at a realistic level. You can now buy in confidence that the price is realistic.” –  April 4 2010

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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