Ex head of AIB says “I’m sorry” about banking collapse

Eugene Sheehy
Eugene Sheehy

Two former heads of Allied Irish Banks have expressed regret over the impact the catastrophic banking collapse had on Ireland.

Before a parliamentary inquiry into the collapse, retired chief executive Eugene Sheehy said he feels personal disappointment every day for the failures.

"I'm very sorry for what happened and for my role in those events. I know a lot of people feel very let down, and deservedly so," Mr Sheehy said.

The former chief executive joined the bank in 1971 and worked his way up to be appointed the top banker by 2005.

He retired in 2009 at the height of Ireland's financial and economic meltdown.

Mr Sheehy said AIB had asked the Government to adopt a four-bank guarantee scheme in September 2008 during all-night negotiations.

He said he did not ask for the blanket 440 billion euro guarantee ultimately brought in by the then coalition.

"When we saw the guarantee document the next morning we could not see why Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide were included," Mr Sheehy said.

Michael Buckley, who was formally appointed group chief executive in 2001 and retired in 2005, said he had no information that the bank was lending too much when he was in charge.

"I deeply regret what happened and the damage it inflicted on the lives of so many," he said.

Mr Buckley said he had no premonition when he was retiring 10 years ago of the looming financial crisis which hit world markets and the shattering impact of the crisis on the Irish economy.