Embattled Taoiseach Brian Cowen has accused the Opposition of peddling an absurd conspiracy theory over his contacts with disgraced banker Sean FitzPatrick.
In an impassioned defence, Mr Cowen claimed questions over a golf game, dinner and phone call he shared with the bankrupt ex-Anglo Irish Bank chief were a smear campaign.
The Taoiseach has stressed there was no secret agenda behind the Druid's Glen outing in July 2008, two months before he oversaw the plan to save Anglo and other banks from collapse.
"It's an absurd, patently absurd, conspiracy theory that is perpetuated and which is doing a greater disservice to politics in this country than any actions this government honourably took in the crisis," he claimed.
In his first public grilling since the previously undisclosed contacts were revealed, Mr Cowen said he utterly rejected allegations his Fianna Fail party had been in bed with bankers and developers.
The Taoiseach said the Labour Party's allegations of "economic treason" were wrong and that the bank guarantee in September 2008 was taken in the best interests of the country.
"No game of golf, and no telephone call and no dinner will change that situation," Mr Cowen said.
Mr Cowen joined Mr FitzPatrick for 18 holes on the exclusive Co Wicklow resort in July 2008 after being invited by long-term friend Fintan Drury.
Sinn Fein said the Taoiseach's credibility was in tatters.
The party's Dail leader Caoimhghin O'Caolain said people were expected to believe that Anglo was not discussed at the meal despite the presence of Mr Gray and Mr McGann.