Fury follows FitzPatrick to his sunny sanctuary
'If he comes here, he'll be lynched, I'll throw my red wine over him'
Published 04/04/2010 | 05:00
ON the same day that Irish taxpayers were told that they would be paying for the rest of their lives because of the €30bn Nama buyout, disgraced banker Sean FitzPatrick was holidaying abroad.
But while there were people who swear he is in one of the world's top golf resorts on the Costa Del Sol, there was no definite sighting of 'Seanie' in his usual Spanish bolthole.
In the good times and more recently in times of trouble, the former boss of Anglo Irish Bank has headed for the luxurious sanctuary of the Real Club de Golf Las Brisas Spanish golf and country club.
Mr FitzPatrick became a member of the exclusive club in Marbella several years ago, when joining fees were close to €100,000.
Unconfirmed reports from staff working in the restaurant suggested that Mr FitzPatrick dined out with friends in the club restaurant on Thursday night -- just as the full horror of the impact of the crisis on present and future generations was becoming clear.
The club is one of Mr FitzPatrick's favourite haunts on the sunshine coast. The restaurant boasts a five-star menu of lobster and prawn salad hors d'oeuvres garnished with pine-nut vinaigrette and apple chutney, for €22. For those with heartier appetites, there is beef Wellington, with mushrooms, truffle and puff pastry, at €22.
Mr FitzPatrick is understood to have holidayed at the Hotel de Las Golf resort, where apartments cost up to €1m at the peak of the boom.
Neighbours of Mr FitzPatrick at the resort said that since his role in the collapse of Anglo Irish became clear, 'Seanie' had been attempting to keep a low profile, driving around in a second-hand, Dublin-registered car and staying at the club, where he still has a tight-knit circle of friends and golfing buddies.
"I would regularly see him dining out in the restaurant," said a source. "He has some buddies in Las Brisas who have stayed very loyal to him throughout and I've seen them dining together, overlooking the course.
"It's only natural he's going to stay where he'll be left alone in peace and quiet."
There were some rumblings however, from the strong Irish contingent at the club. As one regular said: "Some of my friends would have been big investors and they have been very badly hit. They are very fed up and I've been getting calls all week, asking where he is.
"They think he has a cheek, prancing around on holidays with the terrible mess he has left back home. They want to get their hands on him, they want to know where he is."
Another Dublin golfer at the restaurant sniffed: "Hopefully he'll strike oil in Nigeria soon and pay us all back."
Several miles away, on the nearby Porto Banus strip, the mood was more reflective, although there were traces of resentment.
In Patrick's Bar, which is popular among Irish businessmen and ex-pats who flock to the Costa Del Sol for the Easter holiday, a director of one of Ireland's leading retail chains described the ill-feeling that exists toward the banker.
"If he comes in here he will be lynched," he said. "At the very least, the first thing I'd do is throw my glass of red wine over him. It's scandalous that he should come on holiday with so many people crippled by debt because of him."
Another businessman, who is a director of one Ireland´s leading property agencies, said: "We're just all trying to keep a cool head. I'm holding my nerve.
"You have to stay calm. If you didn't," he said, putting a finger to his head to mimic a gun, " then we'd all be in the loony bin."
A neighbour of Mr FitzPatrick described how he is often seen enjoying the easy life at the Las Brisas club.
"You'd often see him dining with friends after a round of golf. He may be despised by everyone back home but he has a tight circle of friends in Las Brisas who have stayed loyal to him throughout.
"You don't abandon that kind of loyalty overnight. So it's a place where he can come to get away from it all."
A few miles away on the port, however, the mood towards the banker is a complete contrast -- full of anger and resentment.
As the tabloids hung up 'Wanted -- Sean Fitz' posters on street poles along the strip, Patrick's Bar is one of the many places he would be guaranteed a cool welcome if he decides to leave his bolthole.
Publican Charlie Chawke, said he hadn't seen the former Anglo boss during his holiday, adding that he wouldn't hang out with people who have done what Mr FitzPatrick did.
In the back of the pub, a table of Irish businessmen loudly discussed the vilified banker.
"No one would have known him a year ago if he walked through that door, but now everyone has their own reasons for wanting to meet him," one of them smiled.
His friend agreed, saying: "I know people who used to be friends of his and who have lost a lot of money because of Anglo. They've all turned on him now. There are a lot of very sore people back home."