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AIB whistleblower calls the tune

EUGENE McErlean, the former internal auditor at AIB, had a fascinating reaction to his spat with AIB last week. All is forgiven.

McErlean watched the departing AIB boss Eugene Sheehy appearing before a Leinster House Committee. The committee, chaired with great skill by Fianna Fail TD Michael Moynihan, was sitting in judgment on McErlean's whistleblowing story. Sheehy surprised everyone by graciously apologising several times to McErlean for the bank's past behaviour.

Then he cleared up a great deal of misunderstanding when he finally conceded that McErlean "undertook the role of auditor in a highly professional, competent and effective manner. Eugene was not dismissed by AIB".

McErlean, sitting in the gallery, was later asked by RTE's Emma McNamara for a reaction to Sheehy's retreat. Perhaps she had expected McErlean to put the boot into his one-time boss.

Far from it. The internal auditor who has emerged vindicated with his head held high, after seven long years of pain, nursed no grudges against Allied Irish Bank. His quarrel remains with the Financial Regulator.

He had turned to the so-called watchdog in his hour of need in 2001 and 2002. He sought an independent party in support of his plucky decision to challenge the bank. The support was not there.

McErlean, an initially shy man, is an unlikely hero. Nor is he a natural fighter, but the Financial Regulator miscalculated when it gambled that he would go quietly.

The discredited watchdog would now be better off following Sheehy's example and emerging from the Dame Street bunker waving the white flag.

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