Lenihan 'defamed in bank row'
Published 18/02/2011 | 16:00
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has accused a former government colleague of defaming him.
The Fianna Fail Cabinet member alleged one-time coalition partner Senator Dan Boyle of the Greens libelled him over favours for rogue bankers.
The Senator accused Mr Lenihan of siding with Irish Nationwide amid scandal over a one million euro pension payment to former chief Michael Fingleton.
Mr Boyle said he received a phonecall from the minister in 2009 where it was implied he should back off criticising the bust building society.
Mr Lenihan said: "I'm annoyed by his comments because he suggests in the last paragraph in his statement of outright defamation that I was kow-towing to private interests in a confused way.
"So he doesn't seem to understand the basic fact that two of the directors were acting in the public interest reporting to me from the board.
"I think once you have that fact at the back of your mind it puts a completely different colour on this statement."
Mr Lenihan said he had instructed Irish Nationwide to go after Mr Fingleton over the pension.
The minister suggested it was unlikely he would take the matter further claiming that politically charged comments were made in the heat of battle.
Senator Boyle had said last night: "I found this (telephone) call to be surreal and still don't know if it was based on diffidence or delusion. No instruction was issued to me - but the implication was clear, my criticisms should not be made."
He said Mr Lenihan had passed on complaints from the Irish Nationwide board to Mr Boyle.
The Cork South Central candidate claimed Fianna Fail was reluctant and "less than animated" in seeing several key banking figures called to account.
Mr Lenihan made the allegation as he claimed his party's policy of €15bn cuts over four years was the only fully costed plan for recovery.
"It is focused solely on the achievement of sustainable economic growth," he said.
"It has not been designed around voter appeal. It is realistic and it is credible. Our programme in the next Dail will be the implementation of the plan."