TAOISEACH Brian Cowen should appoint a new 'Minister for Construction' to halt the wave of construction job losses, according to Hank Fogarty, former president of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF).

Refusing to accept that builders' were responsible for the downturn, Fogarty, who is also a former director of large developer SIAC Construction, attacked the government for allowing the property bubble grow out of control during the boom and issued Taoiseach Brian Cowen with an 'I told you so' message.

Speaking at the annual Dublin University Construction Law Alumni lecture, Fogarty recalled a speech given by Cowen, then minister for finance, at a CIF function in Tullamore on 2 March 2007.

He quoted an extract from Cowen's speech where he said: "Good economic and fiscal performance does not happen on its own but is nurtured and supported by sensible economic policies... Hand in hand with this, a strategically balanced, prudent and stability-orientated approach to the public finances facilitates high levels of investment in the productive capacity of the economy."

Fogarty told the large attendance at the lecture in Trinity College that he had no reason to claim Cowen did not believe this statement but the former SIAC boss added, "All of the evidence now available shows that wasn't the case and the question has to be asked who in the Department of Finance should have known and didn't, or more likely did know but said nothing?"

As the bust is not the construction industry's fault, Fogarty continued: "Once the figures went over 45,000-50,000 housing units per year there was a clear need for the government to do two things if they really believed that bit about the 'prudent and stability-orientated approach'."