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Opposition to grill Taoiseach over links with FitzPatrick

Taoiseach Brian Cowen is expected to face Opposition questions on his contacts with disgraced Anglo Irish Bank boss Sean FitzPatrick as the Dail returns from the Christmas break today.

Green leader John Gormley yesterday hit out at his coalition colleague for not earlier revealing previously undisclosed contacts with Mr FitzPatrick in 2008.

But Mr Gormley said his party could find no evidence of any wrongdoing in a telephone conversation, dinner and round of golf Mr Cowen enjoyed with the ex-Anglo chief.

The Taoiseach stressed there was no secret agenda behind the July 2008 golf outing at the exclusive Druid's Glen resort two months before he oversaw a plan to save Anglo and other banks from collapse.

But Fine Gael accused Mr Cowen of withholding information about his phone call with Mr FitzPatrick the previous March from the garda fraud investigation into Anglo, claiming the fact was being ignored by Mr Gormley.

Mr Cowen said the phone call he took from the now bankrupt ex-Anglo chairman while in Malaysia as finance minister related to concerns over the bank's shares.

And he reiterated that he told Mr FitzPatrick he would relay his concerns to the Central Bank.

The Labour Party claimed Mr Cowen has given contradictory accounts of how he first became aware of the crisis facing scandal-hit Anglo.

Leader Eamon Gilmore said he presumed the gardai would question Mr Cowen about what Mr FitzPatrick said to him.


Sinn Fein branded Mr Gormley's response pathetic, claiming there was nothing Fianna Fail could do that would prompt the Greens to pull out of Government.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams called for the Government to step down.

"All of the shenanigans recently show the very urgent need for a root-and-branch reform of the political and economic systems and a start of all of that would be for this government to go," he said.

Flanked by the party's Dail leader, Caoimhghin O Caolain, and Louth TD Arthur Morgan, Mr Adams said the FitzPatrick revelations highlighted Fianna Fail's close relationship with bankers.

"Whatever about the detail of what happened during this golfing outing, what it does illustrate is the very cosy relationship between the Fianna Fail leadership and the bankers and the speculators and the developers. The Galway Tent syndrome," he said.

PA Media