Supposing Bertie HAD done the right thing…

Supposing Bertie had tried to do the right thing...

Supposing Bertie had tried to do the right thing…


June 2007.


The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD, has conceded defeat after tallymen said that FF senator Cyprian Brady would narrowly fail to be elected to the last seat in Dublin Central. This result confirmed that Fianna Fail’s loss of five seats in the general election meant that it was now impossible for the party to attempt to cobble together a majority with the remaining PDs and independents.

Cowen launched a blistering attack on his predecessor, Bertie Ahern TD,  for his decision, following the 2002 general election, to restrict mortgage lending and tax breaks. He identified Ahern’s attempts to dampen down the property market as the key reason for Fianna Fail’s defeat in the general election. The decision to restrict lending was very badly received by first time buyers, who accused the government of treating them like children and not letting them borrow as much as they wished.

Ahern’s January 2003 RTE Prime Time interview, where he suggested that the banks and mortgage holders were piling debts upon themselves based on massively overvalued assets caused the Taoiseach to be savaged by the media, who attacked him (and not just in their weighty property supplements) of being alarmist and talking down the market. Ahern’s refusal to back down led to a gradual slow down and modest dip  in property values, and following heated rows in heated tents in Galway with party supporters, finance minister Charlie McCreevy announced his resignation, accusing Ahern of lacking courage.

The policy led to a substantial drop in employment in the construction industry, with unemployment leaping from 3.1% to 5.1%, and demands for the Taoiseach’s resignation by some FF backbenchers. Fianna Fail suffered heavy losses in middle class areas in the 2004 local and European elections, with Fine Gael trouncing FF with a clear call to reverse Ahern’s restrictions. Polls showed clearly that Ahern’s interference in the property market was deeply unpopular with middle class and aspiring middle class voters,  and in June 2006, following a sustained campaign in the media, Charlie McCreevey announced that he was challenging Bertie Ahern for the party leadership. Although he defeated Ahern in the vote, McCreevy was beaten in the subsequent leadership election by Brian Cowen, his successor as finance minister, who pointed out that he believed in the “traditional idea that the leader of Fianna Failer should be, you know, a member of Fianna Fail.” The new cabinet announced it was reversing Ahern’s restricting on lending and restoring the tax breaks to the building industry.

The incoming Fine Gael/Labour coalition has said that it does not believe the fact that the country is building over 80,000 housing units when Sweden, with double the population, is only building 12,000, to be a cause for concern.

In other news, the family of Capt. Edward Smith, the “mad” captain of the RMS Titanic who rammed an iceberg in 1912 and caused over a £100,000 worth of damage to his own ship, have petitioned the British Government to clear the captain’s name. Smith, who died disgraced in 1950, always maintained that if he attempted to turn the ship away from the iceberg it could have been badly damaged along its hull in such a way as to sink the ship, a theory that modern engineers have recently begun to suggest has merit. For years, the phrase “To Smith Oneself” was a derogatory naval slogan to describe a foolish action taken by a person who claimed that they were attempting to avoid a greater catastrophe.

The former luxury liner continues to be one of the biggest tourist attractions in London, where it is moored.

6 thoughts on “Supposing Bertie HAD done the right thing…

  1. You’re absolutely right. I wan’t suggesting otherwise, only that we would have seen a short term rise in construction related unemployment.

  2. And let’s be honest, if Bertie had done that and that had been the outcome the responsibility would in the main lie with the electorate who voted in that way and the media who weren’t honest enough with them about what was going on. But that would go against the mantra that the people saw nothing untoward or unusual happening, were not warned that things were unsustainable, and had no hand act or part in the boom, and didn’t benefit in any way shape or form from it.

    What is that con men say that you can’t con someone who isn’t in some way greedy?

  3. Bravo! It does prove just how much everyone was caught up in Alan Greenspan’s “Irrational Exuberance” that had Ahern tried to cool the property market he would have been denounced as a killjoy, likewise had Sean Fitzpatrick attempted to reduce Anglo’s exposure to the property Market he would have been ousted by it’s shareholders.

    The fact is that just about everyone shares some of the blame for the global financial crisis. Fitzpatrick, Fingleton and Fed Goodwin didn’t force people to take out huge mortgages and loans, people went to them because they were obsessed about their net worth.

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  5. I don’t know if it would’ve happened that way. You’re assuming that property development was our only option for economic growth. What if Bertie, or his successor in this case, promoted investment in education and developing new business ideas instead?

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