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Con Power

MARTIN FITZPATRICK DR CON Power likes to tell that he has been working in the public service for more than 40 years, since, indeed, he started his "working life as an inspector of taxes in 1963".

But for some of that time he's developed an uncanny knack of attracting controversy. His latest unsought excursion into the headlines was when last year he became chair of the Financial Services Ombudsman's Council.

It wasn't just because it was one of the final political acts of Charlie McCreevy, but it may have been because he took up the watchdog role while also vice-chairman of the Irish Nationwide Building Society. The implication was that there was some conflict of interest - an implication Dr Power dismissed as "utterly ridiculous".

A Sligoman, Con Power had a career in education before he arrived in Dublin in the Eighties as director of economic policy at the Confederation of Irish Industries - the forerunner of IBEC.

His unfortunate knack of running into controversy took off when he became economic adviser to Albert Reynolds, then the new Taoiseach.

Later, he then upped and set up a consultancy (with the curious name of Nemesis), which oddly pledged to offer consultancy advice to those who wanted to overcome barriers imposed by legislation or public administration!

The Taoiseach was forced to tell the Dail that Dr Power was "not at the heart of Government" and didn't have the influence that some TDs thought he had. This inspired the memorable comment: "All Con and no Power."

However, Dr Power has retained a great deal of respect in the public service, as theappointment of the 66-year-old to the Ombudsman's Council indicated.

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