Taoiseach says he ‘misspoke’ when he said banks were not bailed out

Martin clarifies his comments, says banks got ‘huge rescue package’

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he “misspoke” when he told the Dáil on Wednesday that the banks did not receive a bailout.

The Taoiseach, in an interview with The Echo on Thursday, saying: “I misspoke yesterday in the Dáil and made a mistake in terms of how I articulated it.

He told the paper: “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.”


Mr Martin has come under increasing opposition pressure to correct the Dáil record in the wake of the €64 billion injection to the banks in 2008.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil earlier that "there was a bailout of the banks 12 years ago" and agreed the Taoiseach misspoke when he said there had not been a bailout.

“The banks were nationalised or effectively nationalised,” the Tánaiste said, when challenged by People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett about comments Mr Martin made in the Dáil on Wednesday claiming that banks and their shareholders did not receive a bailout.

In the Dáil Mr Boyd Barrett said the Taoiseach had “entered a winter wonderland fairytale” in making that claim.

Mr Varadkar said the Taoiseach also “did correct himself very quickly in fairness in the Dáil yesterday. What he meant to say was that the banks’ owners, the banks’ shareholders were not bailed out.

“And those who owned the banks, those who had shares in the banks lost all or almost all of their money. Some were very wealthy people and some were not. “Some were just everyday people who bought bank shares as part of their pension and we need to bear that in mind.”

Mr Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste “to correct the Dáil record that there was in fact a bailout of the banks and it did cost the people of this country very badly”.

The Taoiseach on Wednesday told Mr Boyd Barrett that the banks were not bailed out when the Dún Laoghaire TD contrasted the treatment of the banks with that of the Debenhams workers.

Mr Martin said: “I’ll talk to you about the banks. The banks were not bailed out. Shareholders in the banks were not bailed out. The State took equity. The shareholders were not bailed out. That’s not a popular thing to say, but it is a fact.”

The Tánaiste said that people sometimes seek to have their sectors bailed out like the banks. “What they often don’t appreciate is that would mean they would seek to own that sector.”

He added that if for example they bailed out the fishing industry the State would own “all those boats” and similarly in a bailout of the farming sector the State would own all farms.

“And I think that was the point the point the Taoiseach was trying to make.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times