People to pay for my mistakes, Cowen admits
People to pay for my mistakes, Cowen admits

The Taoiseach Brian Cowen has accepted that he had “not got everything right” on managing the country’s finances, adding that the Irish people will endure further “short-term pain” to help balance the budget.

He said the State could not continue to borrow 400 million Euro a week, and had to “start cutting costs”.

He told a meeting of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party in Athlone, in the Irish midlands, that it was their “patriotic responsibility” to rescue Ireland from the current economic crisis and said the only means of doing this was by cutbacks.

Outside, farmers led an angry protest which at one point attempted to force its way into the building where Cowen was leading the event, billed as a “Fianna Fail think-in”.

Measures being proposed by the coalition government were vital it ensure “fiscal sovereignty”, according to Mr Cowen, without explanation.

“Our job as politicians, as legislators, as civic leaders, is to try and cut a path through the fog of negativity that is drowning out every voice of reason in this country,” he proclaimed.

“To those who accuse me or any of my colleagues in this party or this Government of bailing out bankers, punishing the poor, protecting the rich or selling out our sovereignty - that it’s time to stop playing politics with the future of the Irish people,” he added.

“If we take the correct policy choices, we can beat this recession.”

“I want to be honest with you. I know I’ve not got everything right. No leader ever does,” he said.

Insisting the public had to be persuaded to “bite the bullet now”, Mr Cowen repeatedly warned the next Budget would contain tough but necessary measures.

Mr Cowen said the mood within the party remained determined, despite recent opinion polls putting Fianna Fail’s popularity at an historic low.

“We are very determined in the coming months to set a direction for the country which is absolutely necessary,” he said.

Mr Cowen said his party was “very anxious” to press ahead with the Lisbon Treaty campaign, the setting up of Nama and drawing up of a new Budget.

Responding to reported remarks from Minister for Tourism Martin Cullen, apparently defending the O60 million purchase of electronic voting machines, the Taoiseach said: “We will move on and learn the lessons from the past.”

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