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Gallery removes Cowen 'noose' art

BRIAN Cowen has been in some tricky situations recently, but none quite as treacherous as this.

The artist responsible for the canvas depicting the Taoiseach with a noose around his neck last night defended his work.

Tom Byrne maintained that his painting does not depict suicide and wasn't "all that strong" despite it being removed from display at a gallery in Dublin.

Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive Sean FitzPatrick is also prominent in the work -- as he appears to pull a chair out from beneath Mr Cowen.

Mr Cowen is holding two golf balls in a non-too-subtle nod to recent revelations that the Taoiseach played a round of golf with the bank boss shortly before the controversial bank guarantee was introduced.

'The Personal Guarantee' went on display in the window of Dublin's Apollo Gallery on Dawson Street last Thursday, but was later removed after a storm of protests.

"We had some very strong opinions coming through the door," Clare Shanahan told the Irish Independent yesterday.

"People were very angry about how the Taoiseach was portrayed in the picture. The reaction was such we had to remove the canvas from our window and even take it off display."

However, Mr Byrne argued: "I'd say the protests had more to do with the Apollo Gallery's proximity to Leinster House than outrage from members of the public. I'm told all the men who came in complaining wore suits."

Mr Byrne, from Greystones, Co Wicklow, said: "Given that effigies of certain figures involved in our banking scandal have been burnt outside the headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank, I really don't think my painting is all that strong."

'The Personal Guarantee' remains for sale, priced at €950, in the Apollo Gallery.

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