Wednesday 17 January 2018

Cowen set to robustly defend his handling of bank crisis

Brian Cowen: decisions as minister were ‘prudent
Brian Cowen: decisions as minister were ‘prudent
John Downing

John Downing

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen will tell the Banking Inquiry that his decisions as Finance Minister were "prudent and cautious".

Mr Cowen is ready to deliver a robust defence of his four-year term as Finance Minister from 2004 to 2008 - a period some analysts argue paved the way for the banking and economic crash in autumn 2008.

The former Fianna Fáil leader utterly rejects this view and will point to a slew of national and international analyses of the Irish economy at that time which helped inform his management decisions.

Mr Cowen is due before the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry on Thursday to answer questions about his term as Finance Minister. He returns to the inquiry the following week to discuss his time as Taoiseach from 2008 to 2011, and he will reject claims that he "overruled" his finance minister, Brian Lenihan, over the bank guarantee.

Next week the former Taoiseach will say that he "discussed options" with the late Mr Lenihan who had at one stage in September 2008 favoured nationalising Anglo Irish Bank.

Mr Cowen will insist that this was never a matter of conflict between the two men and they "chatted out" the issues before deciding to go with a blanket bank guarantee on the night of September 29/30, 2008.

Political sources have said Mr Cowen's presentation to the two inquiry sessions this week and next will focus on setting events in the context of their times. "There is a great deal of hindsight since then. You look at the current Greek situation and you realise the need for decisions and action based on the knowledge and advice which you have. We can all be wise years after the event," the source told the Irish Independent.

The Banking Inquiry, chaired by Labour Party TD Ciaran Lynch, has been sitting since last December and working to a tight deadline to deliver a report by next November.

Its sessions are now gathering pace, with a series of more high-profile witnesses.

Tomorrow, Charlie McCreevy, who was Finance Minister from 1997 to 2004, will appear. On Thursday, Brian Cowen will be covering his years as Finance Minister, and on Wednesday, July 8, he will be back to discuss his years as Taoiseach from May 2008 to March 2011.

A spokesman for the committee last night said more alleged leaks from written submissions will now be investigated by the Gardaí.

Irish Independent

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