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Taoiseach must come clean on all dealings with FitzPatrick: Burton

Sean FitzPatrick has told the Sunday Times that he played golf and had dinner with Brian Cowen just two months before the state introduced the bank guarantee in 2008.

Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire/Press Association Images

FORMER CHIEF OF Anglo Irish Bank Sean FitzPatrick has revealed that he played golf and had dinner with Brian Cowen just two months before the state introduced the bank guarantee scheme in 2008.

The Sunday Times reveals that the then finance minister met with FitzPatrick in July 20o8 and also spoke to him over the phone in March 2008, at which point he was informed that there was an issue with the bank shares held by Seán Quinn. The taosieach has confirmed both contacts.

Cowen has described playing golf with FitzPatrick as a “social occasion” at which, he insists, “the affairs of Anglo Irish Bank were not discussed”. He has reiterated that he was unaware that Anglo was in trouble until September 2008.

In the exclusive interview with the newspaper, Fitzpatrick has broken a two year silence: He apologised to “anyone who has suffered” over the bank’s collapse, saying he feels “very serious regret”. However, FitzPatrick stopped short of saying that he was ashamed, saying that he was “an obvious scapegoat for the media and politicians”.

FitzPatrick insisted that he was “one of the biggest victims” of the banking crisis, explaining to the Sunday Times that he had lost money and that his “whole social circle [had] diminished”.

Labour’s spokepersonon finance Joan Burton has said that she is “deeply concerned” at the revelations of contacts between Cowen and FitzPatrick, saying:

A number of critical incidents occurred between March of that year and September when the creeping insolvency of the bank lead to the disastrous decision to put in place a blanket guarantee of the bank’s liabilities.

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Burton said that Cowen had been dining with members of the Anglo Irish Board at a time when share prices in Anglo were plummeting and “secret deals and loans” were being enacted by the Maple 10.

She added that it was “beyond belief that there was no discussion… of the rapidly deteriorating position of the bank” during Cowen and Fitzpatrick’s meetings and telephone conversations. Burton added that she found it “disturbing” that all efforts to conduct a full enquiry into the Anglo Irish collapse have been “thwarted by Brian Cowen’s government all through the past two and a half years”, and referred to Ombudsman Emily O’ Reilly recent call for a truth commission to enquire into the banking crisis and its consequences.

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