I’m a fighter, not a quitter, declares Bowler

“I’M a fighter, not a quitter,” was the declaration from Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P) chairperson Gillian Bowler yesterday — when once again confronted with questions about her future in light of the group’s controversial €7 billion deposit with Anglo Irish Bank, which has already led to three IL&P directors resigning.

A determined but apologetic Ms Bowler said deposits made with Anglo, in order to strengthen the appearance of that bank’s balance sheet ahead of its last end-of-year audit, shouldn’t have happened and wouldn’t have happened if IL&P’s board had full knowledge of the plan beforehand.

“They were wrong. The board did not know that they were occurring and I apologise unreservedly for them,” she said yesterday.

However, when asked how the Irish Life board could not have known about the deposits, Ms Bowler said she was precluded from answering such questions until the various internal and external investigations into the matter have been completed. But she did have time to say: “A board cannot know of things it isn’t informed of, even if it should have been informed.”

IL&P’s internal investigation is nearly complete and the group said it was making good progress in the search for a new chief executive.

The scandal has already resulted in the resignations from IL&P of former chief executive Denis Casey, former group finance director Peter FitzPatrick and ex-head of group treasury David Gantly.

Ms Bowler’s offer of resignation was rejected by the board and yester-day she said she intends to remain in her role. “I offered to resign but now we have a business to run and we have ambitions for that business and I aim to be part of the overall solution,” she added.

Ms Bowler also said the Anglo transactions offered no advantage to IL&P and pointed out that the encouragement from the Central Bank and Financial Regulator for the banks to work more closely together wasn’t being used as an excuse for the deposits.

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