Thursday 23 March 2017

Cowen fumes at 'treason' allegation

Taoiseach Brian Cowen launched an emotional defence of his political reputation after being accused of economic treason over the multi-billion euro bailout of rogue lender Anglo Irish Bank.

Opposition leaders unleashed a blistering attack on Mr Cowen over his decisions as former Finance Minister and later as the country's leader which, they said, have saddled the Irish taxpayer with a €40bn clean-up bill.

Amid highly-charged allegations in the Dail that he saved Anglo from collapse to protect the wealth of government cronies, the usually thick-skinned Taoiseach vented his anger at the charge.

"I will not be accused of seeking to cause treason to my country," he said.

"I find that beyond the pale."

Mr Cowen, known for wearing his patriotism on his sleeve, insisted he was beholding to nobody in his 25 years of political life.

To applause from his own Fianna Fail benches, he berated Labour leader Eamon Gilmore over the accusation, claiming he would never insult another Irishman in the same way in the Dail.

"You are quite entitled to disagree with me but don't question my patriotism to my country," he said.

Mr Gilmore incurred the wrath of the Taoiseach with an allegation that Anglo was brought under the State's bank guarantee in September 2008 in the interests of well-connected property speculators rather than the country.

"I believe that decision was made to save the skins of a number of individuals - some of whom are connected to Fianna Fail - whose property interests and whose prosperity was bound up with the fortunes of Anglo," he said. "If my belief is correct - and I have not been convinced to the contrary - then that decision was an act of economic treason for which this country is now paying very dearly."

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