Third Anglo director at Cowen’s post-golf dinner

ANOTHER Anglo director was present at Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s controversial post-golf dinner with Seán FitzPatrick in July 2008, but Mr Cowen insists not a word was spoken about the bank’s declining fortunes.

Instead, Mr Cowen said he sought the counsel of Mr FitzPatrick and the others present on how to combat the recession.

In a statement last night, one of those present at the dinner, economist and Indecon managing partner Alan Gray said at no point was there any discussion of banking issues or of Anglo Irish Bank. He said the discussion focused “exclusively on initiatives to encourage new small indigenous firms, and measures to attract additional investment to Ireland and other responses to unemployment”.

As the Dáil returned for the final session before the general election, Mr Cowen defended his motives for guaranteeing Anglo, insisting: “I am no economic traitor.”

A new book has revealed the Taoiseach took a phone call from Mr FitzPatrick about a share price crisis at Anglo in March 2008, and played golf and had dinner with him at Druid’s Glen in July that year, two months before the bank was guaranteed. Both the phone call and the golf were arranged by Fintan Drury, a friend of Mr Cowen and former Anglo director, who participated in the golf and dinner.

However, Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, who was at Druid’s Glen the same day to attend a wedding, said there were more than two people dining with Mr Cowen.

In response, Mr Cowen said: “We were joined that evening by Alan Gray, who’s an economic consultant, and also by Gary McGann, who’s Smurfit Kappa chief executive, and also by my Garda driver.”

Mr Cowen failed to mention that Mr McGann was at that time a director of Anglo, meaning there were three current or former board members of the bank at the dinner. He also failed to mention that Mr Gray was a Central Bank director whom he had appointed.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said, if the Government had known Anglo was a “bust bank” before guaranteeing it, he stood by his charge that Mr Cowen’s administration was guilty of “economic treason”.

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