Mythwatch - Spin in the Media

Below is a small sample of statements put forward by politicians and influential news outlets that support myths about Ireland's economic choices. We will update this throughout Budget Week.




The country is broke

  1. Living beyond our means: ‘We are living beyond our means’ – Brian Lenihan, Morning Ireland, 3 December 2008 / Charles Haughey, Minsterial Broadcast, 9 January 1980
  2. The rich are broke: ‘We are broke’ – Aine Lawlor, Morning Ireland, July 2010 (ref Vincent Browne article 28/07/10)
  3. Minimum wage is too high: ‘We need to step back from the hurly-burly and see it [€8.65] as a boom-time minimum wage’ – economist and former AIB director Jim O’Leary, CIPD Ireland conference, 11 May 2009
  4. Public service is overstaffed & underperforming: ‘We're firmly back in the bad books and now, as a result of the ever-increasing cost of bailing out the banks, the amount of borrowing needed to keep the lights on (or maintain a vastly inefficient, bloated and unproductive public sector) has soared to record highs.’ – journalist Daniel McConnell, Irish Indpendent, 9 August 2010 (ref OECD public sector report 2008)
  5. Immigrants and welfare fraudsters: ‘Prime Time has evidence which shows there is a problem with the growing number of people acquiring and using false PPS numbers...we came across at least five cases where EU nationals who were going home rented or loaned their PPS numbers to non-EU nationals living here. This meant the non-EU national could get a job under the assumed name. At the same time, they could claim social welfare under their own name, or their partner's name.’ – Prime Time Investigates Social Welfare Fraud, December 2009

We’re All In This Together


  1. We are where we are: ‘There could have been a harder regime adopted towards the bondholders...but we are where we are, that didn't happen’ – FT journalist John Murray Brown, Tonight with Vincent Browne, 16 November 2010
  2. We all lost the run of ourselves:‘During the boom years, when the country seemed to be awash with money, Christmas was a time of wanton excess, with mountains of food and mountains of presents pouring into houses bedecked with sufficient illumination to put a Las Vegas casino to shame.’ – journalist Conor Pope, The Irish Times, 7 December 2009
  3. We all have to share the blame: ‘Let’s be fair about it, we all partied’ – Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, Prime Time, 24 November 2010. 'We were all responsible' – former Financial Regulator Brian Patterson, 3 December 2010. 'If you want to know what caused the crash and failure of Anglo, have a look in the mirror. We all built the boom and we all caused the bust." – Developer Simon Kelly, Sunday Tribune, 4 April 2010
  4. We will all have to share the pain: ‘We all have to pull together’ – An Taoiseach Brian Cowen, The Week in Politics, 28 November 2010.

There is no alternative


  1. The deficit must be cut: ‘Failure to meet that particular target [3% by 2014] could again cause difficulties for Ireland in terms of borrowing costs so we’re intent on achieving those savings. It is going to be difficult obviously but we think it can be done and it has to be done in a fair and sustainable manner.’ – Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, Fianna Fáil parliamentary party conference, 15 September 2010
  2. Defaulting on debt is unthinkable: 'I have made it clear throughout this crisis that a default on senior debt is unthinkable and that remains by position' – Brian Lenihan, Oireachtas committee meeting, 22 September 2010
  3. Raising corporation tax is unthinkable: ‘Any change in corporation tax would impact the international perspective of Ireland, with one of the major attractions being the certainty the country offers to multinational investors in this regard,’ – Chris Sanger, head of tax policy at KPMG, 16 November 2010. ‘A low rate of corporation tax on export-oriented activity has been a cornerstone of our industrial policy since the 1950s, and the 12.5pc rate is now part of our international “brand”.’ – Government spokesperson, quoted in the Irish Independent, 25 November 2010
  4. The bondholders wouldn’t like it: ‘In relation to the question of senior bondholders [taking a hit], there's no agreement from the European Union for such a proposal because of the impact they believe it would have on the stability of the entire financial system itself and the impact it would have across European banking generally’ – An Taoiseach Brian Cowen, “rescue” deal press conference, 28 November 2010
  5. Now is not the time for the equality agenda: On the issue of gender quotas for TDs; ‘I do not think that quotas are a good idea or necessarily work’ – Minister for Culture, Sport & Tourism Mary Hanafin; ‘Such quotas are discriminatory’ – Fianna Fáil TD Mary O’Rourke

We're 'going forward', going forward

  1. Trust us, we have a plan: 'Ireland has made no application for external support' – Brian Cowen, 16 November 2010. 'We can now see the first signs of recovery. Our strategy is on track. Our plan is working." – Brian Lenihan, Budget speech, 20 October 2009
  2. The power of positive thinking: 'The worst is over, we've turned a corner' – Brian Lenihan, Six One News, 9 December 2009. 'We have learned hard lessons and have taken difficult decisions. Our economy is now emerging from recession and Ireland is strongly fighting back.' – Brian Cowen, quoted in The Irish Times, 14 May 2010
  3. Everyone thinks we're doing the right things: 'The world out there believes in us and in our ability to work our way through our difficulties and return to growth' – Brian Lenihan, Dáil statement on the banks, 30 March 2010
  4. The national character will pull us through: 'I don't believe there's any reason for Irish people to be ashamed and humiliated' – Brian Cowen on the loss of Irish sovereignty, Irish Times, 19 November 2010. 'Time and again you have proved you can overcome adversity. And this time you do not face the challenges alone. Europe stands by you' – European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn, 9 November 2010. 'We are a resilient people with a proven strength for working through dark clouds to find the silver lining.' – Evening Herald Editorial, 19 November 2010. 'We are a smart, resilient and proud people' – Brian Cowen, Government press conference on the publication of the 'National Recovery Plan 2011 – 2014', 24 November 2010