Embattled Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has admitted that his decision to increase the VAT rate in last October's budget was a "serious mistake" which has cost the state over €700m in lost trade to the North.
His startling concession comes a few weeks after Tanaiste Mary Coughlan admitted in an interview with this newspaper that the VAT increase had been a "total disaster".
Guests at the event said Mr Lenihan appeared to be "incredibly relaxed" and ad-libbed most of his address to the 150 people at the business lunch. Other senior Fianna Fail figures in attendance at the dinner included Eoin Ryan MEP and Michael Woods.
... the minister said: "If I have one act of contrition -- I should not have interfered with the VAT rates. It was a mistake and the wrong thing to do. We have lost €700m in revenue going to the North."
In an extensive interview with this newspaper, Mr Dempsey said: "We made the best decisions we could at the time with the information available. A lot of the time you get it right and you carry on. Some of the times you get it wrong, and you should say you got it wrong."
No shit Sherlock