Cowen: Anglo not mentioned in economy discussion

BRIAN COWEN admitted having a wide-ranging economic discussion with three senior Anglo figures after his golf outing with Seán FitzPatrick — but insisted the perilous state of the bank’s finances were never mentioned.

During a bruising Dáil showdown on his previously undisclosed dealings with FitzPatrick in 2008, Mr Cowen angrily denied ever doing favours for business figures, insisting he was the victim of political “smears” and “conspiracy theories”.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore insisted it was not credible that the Taoiseach had not discussed the deteriorating situation at Anglo with FitzPatrick during their July 2008 outing.

“I would find it incredible that you didn’t at least as... ‘how are the problems with the bank?’”

In the only new information to emerge, Mr Cowen revealed the post-golf dinner was attended by Anglo chief FitzPatrick, Anglo director Fintan Drury and Gary McGann, an Anglo director up to a few weeks previously.

“It was about being able to sit down... at the end of the day and having a chat about the economy.

“We’d had a mini-budget, we saw recession on the horizon and a big slowdown in the economy. As Taoiseach, I was there chatting to see if there were ideas and to find out other people’s views on things and to see if things could be done which might be helpful... those people would have some views on that,” Mr Cowen said.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny claimed Fianna Fáil had strong links to the banks and developers which had inflicted grave economic damage on the country.

Mr Cowen responded saying he did not recall receiving a request from Sean FitzPatrick to speak to the National Treasury Management Agency about investing in Anglo Irish Bank.

Mr Cowen said there was “no question” of any “inappropriate behaviour” on his behalf regarding the Anglo bail-out, at least €34.3bn, on September 2008.

Mr Gilmore stood by his charge that Mr Cowen would be an economic traitor if it emerged he knew Anglo was insolvent when he asked the Dáil to approve the bank’s inclusion in the bail-out.

Mr Cowen aggressively denied being an economic traitor, adding: “I do my best for this country in the economic good”.

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