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Demo fury over Cowen's €1,200 night out with execs

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has been slammed for attending a €1,200 dinner for select business professionals.

Attendees at the Mansion House event are believed to be asked to stump up as much as €1,200 per head for the event.

However, Labour spokesperson on Finance Joan Burton criticised the Taoiseach for picking and choosing his audience.

"Brian Cowen seems to be addicted to having closed speeches with select groups of businessmen and Irish elite," she said.

"It is a self-justifying, closed-circle event where the ordinary members of the public are peering in through the glass to see what the Taoiseach is saying."

Ms Burton said that she wasn't invited to the event and doesn't believe that any members of the Labour Party were in attendance.

"Here we saw him having dinner with his soul brothers rather than the ordinary families who have faced enormous difficulties," she said.

"It seems that he gets his mojo from having dinner with this IBEC business group and chamber executives.

"I'm not aware of Brian Cowen speaking to any open groups of ordinary people but obviously prefers these closed and selected business events."

Ms Burton said that it was a "controlled" event.

"In many cases a fawning audience which would have very little self-criticism and very little criticism of senior bankers and members of the business community who brought this country to the brink of economic ruin," she added.

"It reinforces the very strong view that Fianna Fail's interests have been driven by very sectional members of society and those in a golden circle."

A representative for the Taoiseach defended his attendance in the capacity as speaker at the event and outlined that he had a varied schedule.

"It is important that the Taoiseach speaks to the people who are creating thousands of jobs in the country," the spokesman said. "He regularly meets with various community groups."

The Taoiseach outlined at the dinner that the Government will hold fast on its decision to impose €3bn in public sector cuts in next December's Budget, despite growth returning to the economy next year.

He said that the Government must keep a clear focus on the factors that it can control against a background of continuing uncertainty in global financial markets.