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Key moments in a long week of severe pressure for the Taoiseach

Sunday, January 9:

Previously undisclosed contacts are revealed between Taoiseach Brian Cowen and former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick in the run-up to the 2008 state banking guarantee.

'The FitzPatrick Tapes' detail how Mr Cowen and the ex-Anglo boss played golf and dined at the exclusive Druids Glen resort in Co Wicklow in July, 2008.

It also revealed the two men spoke on the phone the previous March, while Mr Cowen was still Finance Minister, about concerns over Anglo's plummeting share value.

Mr Cowen confirms he played golf and dined with Mr FitzPatrick, but claimed it was a social outing and the bank was not discussed.

Monday, January 10:

In a statement, Mr Cowen insisted that there was no secret agenda behind the golf game and dinner. He again said the bank was not discussed during the outing.

Tuesday, January 11:

Green Party leader John Gormley hit out at his coalition colleague Mr Cowen for not earlier revealing the contacts with the ex-Anglo boss.

But he said his party could find no evidence of wrongdoing in the phone call, dinner or round of golf.

Wednesday, January 12:

During a grilling in the Dail the Taoiseach accused the opposition of peddling an absurd conspiracy theory over his contacts with the banker, claiming the questions were a smear campaign.

But more details emerged. Mr Cowen revealed he and long-term friend Fintan Drury, a former Anglo board member, and Mr FitzPatrick were joined for the dinner by Alan Gray, a former managing partner of consultancy firm Indecon and appointed by Mr Cowen as a Central Bank director in 2007, and Gary McGann, Smurfit Kappa chief executive and then a member of the Anglo board.

Thursday, January 13:

A Fianna Fail parliamentary party meeting is delayed by more than three hours, fuelling speculation that Mr Cowen's leadership is in doubt. But the Taoiseach tells colleagues he accepts there are issues about his leadership and offers to sit down with members to listen to their concerns.

Friday, January 14:

As Mr Cowen consulted colleagues, a no-confidence vote in the Government by Labour was blocked by Chief Whip John Curran, who refused to free up time in the Dail.

Saturday, January 15:

Noel O'Flynn, backbencher and critic of Mr Cowen, calls for the Taoiseach to step down as party leader and openly backs leadership contender Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin to take over.

Sunday, January 16:

Mr Cowen vows to remain on in office. He breaks with protocol to offer his opponents the chance to vote against his leadership in a confidence motion.

Irish Independent