John Gormley on tonight’s Vincent Browne show:
Gormley: We had already discussed it for about a week on and off, we had discussed this. Some people, and I took the view too, that maybe nationalisation was the way forward. You have to remember the context.
Vincent Browne: You didn’t think that you as leader of the party that was in coalition government with Fianna Fail, you didn’t think that maybe you should get out of bed and go in to the Department of Finance where these discussions were going on.
Gormley: No because we had already discussed it Vincent. That’s the whole point
Vincent Browne: You went back to bed?
Gormley: Well, of course. I said “What is the option?” I remember speaking to Brian Lenihan and said “What option are we going for?” In fact, I can tell you what the exact words I used were “Are we going for the David McWilliams option?” That’s what I said on that particular evening. And he said yes. And as far as I was concerned that was the best option as I understood it at that time.
Vincent Browne: Because David McWilliams told you.
Gormley: Well, he is a person that I think a lot of people have respect for and we had discussed it. When I had mentioned nationalisation, he said “no, that’s not a good option at all.”
Vincent Browne: How come there was a bill presented to Brian Lenihan and Brian Cowen that night? There was a bill already drafted for the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank. How come that happened if nationalisation wasn’t on the table over the previous weeks or months?
Gormley: Well, that’s an interesting point because it’s the one that I have gone for myself, so I suppose the Department of Finance had just put that one in, just in case we didn’t decide for the guarantee.
The McWilliams Option might sound like a Robert Ludlum thriller. Unfortunately, this wasn’t fiction. This is a senior cabinet minister’s description of how the most important economic policy decision in the history of the state was made.