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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020
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A nice tan but no cheeky grin from Seánie on his day in court

There were more than a few interested spectators as the former chairman and chief executive of the now defunct Anglo Irish Bank appeared in a criminal court in Dublin.

Seán FitzPatrick leaving court in Dublin yesterday.
Seán FitzPatrick leaving court in Dublin yesterday.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

WHILE THE BLAZING sun greeted the appearance of his former Anglo Irish colleagues at the Criminal Courts of Justice the day before, Seán FitzPatrick arrived back in the Dublin early yesterday morning to grey skies and that annoying drizzly rain.

From his appearance in court yesterday, the tanned and almost white-haired former banker appeared to have just come back from somewhere much warmer than the low 20s that have been blessing us in recent days.

His appearance in court one of the Dublin District Court did not come until after 11am but the expectant journalists had been assembling from just after 10am, occupying much of the two front benches on either side of the courtroom aisle.

A bit like the family of the bride and groom at a wedding, intrigued by the occasion but obviously not as friendly.

Others in the courtroom wondered what all the fuss was about.

“Is there something going on?” one asked, bemused at the vast swathe of hacks in front of him in the packed courtroom.

“Yeah, Seán FitzPatrick.”

“Who?” they responded in a puzzled manner.

“You know, Anglo Irish…”

“Oh,” came the response with a nod of acknowledgement. The words ‘Anglo Irish’ have a somewhat different meaning in this country to what they did twenty years ago.

This was a normal court sitting and before we heard the case of the man who has become one of the country’s most notorious former bankers we heard the cases of over a dozen others whose appearances attracted the sort of attention they could never have imagined.

Drugs, shoplifting and other public order charges came before Judge Cormac Dunne who moved swiftly through them.

Then we came to the man himself and the hitherto bored and impatient journalists immediately sat bolt upright. The case of ‘Seánie Fitz’ , as some know him, was called.

He shuffled into the dock where three members of the gardaí were also stood. He took his seat, he crossed his arms and at times placed them on his lap during the brief, five or six minute hearing.

The hacks on the aisle nearest him scribbled furiously, the hacks on the other side of the court strained to catch a glimpse of him as he sat with little emotion etched on his tanned face.

Members of the media outside the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin yesterday just before the emergence of FitzPatrick (Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland)

A little greyer than his heyday at the head of Anglo but definitely a lot browner than when we last saw him, FitzPatrick was dressed in a sort of periwinkle blue shirt with a bright pink tie with green spots and wore beige chinos and a black jacket.

The court heard that once he had been made aware he was going to be arrested he had arranged with authorities from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation to meet them.

Sure enough we were told that at exactly 5.37am on yesterday morning FitzPatrick was arrested upon arrival at Dublin Airport, on a flight back from the United States. The colour on his face was an indication of the weather out there. Well there has been a heatwave after all.

In keeping with the aforementioned and admittedly poorly chosen wedding theme, FitzPatrick had apparently said “I do” when asked the arresting officer at the airport if he understood why he was being arrested.

Later that morning at Bridewell Garda Station, he said “no comment” each time one of the 16 charges of giving unlawful financial assistance to a number of individuals including members of the Quinn family and the infamous ‘Maple 10′ in July 2008 were read out against him, the court heard.

Bail was granted and in a later hearing to go through the formalities FitzPatrick put on his reading glasses and stepped into the witness box to sign his bail bond – €1,000 – with an independent surety from his sister, Joyce O’Connor, of €10,000.

Conditions of his bail include that he must sign on at Irishtown Garda Station every Wednesday between 9am and 9pm and if he wants to change address or leave the country – to top up the tan perhaps – he must tell the Gardaí two days in advance.

After all that, a short time later FitzPatrick emerged from the courthouse and walked passed the assembled media pack.

He walked stoney-faced to a waiting taxi as one person shouted: “Give us back our money”. The media were in hot pursuit photographers snapped furiously but there were few, if any, questions. Seánie wouldn’t say much anyway.

As he climbed into the car and shut the door with a blackened window, a man approached and shouted “I hope you win it mate” before he was pulled away by one of the escorting gardaí and the car itself pulled away from the crowd.

FitzPatrick will appear in the same courtroom again on 8 October on the same day as his former colleagues at Anglo, Willie McAteer and Pat Whelan, where the book of evidence will be served and dates will be set for a trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

It is sure to be another day of intense media interest.

Eventually there will be a trial, there will be a judge and a jury, and over four years on from the bank guarantee, we might just learn what happened at the bank that was once labelled the world’s best.

In pictures: The cheeky grins of Seán FitzPatrick

Video: Seán FitzPatrick leaves court after charges over Anglo

Roundup: How has the world reacted to the latest Anglo arrests?

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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