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Dail debate Row over Micheal Martin's controversial bank bailout comments rumbles on

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Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

The storm of protest over Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s claim that the last Fianna Fáil government did not bail out the banks during the financial crisis is rumbling on today. 

There were some raised eyebrows yesterday when the Taoiseach told the Dáil that "the banks were not bailed out. Shareholders in the banks were not bailed out" and instead "the State took equity".

"That is not a popular thing to say, but it is a fact," he said.

The controversy arose after Solidarity-PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett raised the ongoing Debenhams dispute.

He had claimed the Government could not put money on the table because it would set a precedent, but was willing to bail out the banks.

"The sum of €18m is owed to the State by Debenhams. The Taoiseach did not mind setting a precedent when it came to bailing out banks to the tune of €64bn," Mr Boyd Barrett told the Dáil.

But Mr Martin retorted that Mr Boyd Barrett "never wants to hear the facts because he lives in a fantasy economic wonderland".

"If his party ever got into power, thousands of jobs would migrate from this country. That is the reality."

Mr Boyd Barrett dubbed the comments "utterly bizarre" and said he had been "flabbergasted and dumbfounded" by the remarks.

"It's not something that you can deny, it was confirmed by the Comptroller and Auditor General that we put €64bn into the banks," he said afterwards.

This morning, Mr Boyd Barret said it was ironic the Taoiseach could refer to “fantasy” when there was nothing more fantastic “than the Taoiseach of this country suggesting that the bank bailout didn’t happen”.

Labour TD, Brendan Howlin added: “The Irish people bailed out the banks in 2008. The owners of the banks, were they bailed out? No. But were the banks themselves, the institutions and their liabilities bailed out with a wall of money? In any objective economic sense, of course, that's exactly what happened.”

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