Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Cowen criticised over AIB 'contact'

Green Party Leader John Gormley said he could find no evidence of any wrongdoing by the Taoiseach

Green leader John Gormley has hit out at Taoiseach Brian Cowen for not earlier revealing previously undisclosed contacts with disgraced Anglo Irish Bank boss Sean FitzPatrick.

But Mr Gormley said his party could find no evidence of any wrongdoing in the telephone conversation, dinner and round of golf Mr Cowen enjoyed with the ex-Anglo chief in 2008.

The Taoiseach has stressed there was no secret agenda behind the outing at the exclusive Druid's Glen resort two months before he oversaw a plan to save Anglo and other banks from collapse.

Mr Gormley said the Greens checked if Mr Cowen's account stacked up and made inquiries to the Department of Finance.

"We're not Sherlock Holmes," Mr Gormley said. "We've done what we can under the circumstances and we've found no evidence (of impropriety)."

Amid demands for a full explanation of his relations with the ex-Anglo boss, the Taoiseach admitted playing the round on the Wicklow course in July 2008 but insisted Mr FitzPatrick's now defunct property bank was not discussed.

The golf match and an earlier phone call - not revealed until interviews with Mr FitzPatrick were published on Sunday - took place as Anglo was brought to its knees by plummeting share value and the rest of Ireland's banking sector was on the brink of collapse.

Mr Cowen said the phone call he took from the now bankrupt ex-Anglo chairman while in Malaysia as finance minister in March 2008 related to concerns over the bank's shares.

Mr Cowen reiterated that he told Mr FitzPatrick he would relay his concerns to the Central Bank.

At the Green's pre-Dail think-in in Malahide, Mr Gormley said the Taoiseach should have revealed the contacts sooner.

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