Brian Cowen says he was unaware of emails on future of Anglo Irish Bank
Former taoiseach did not discuss ‘any issues of substance’ with bank, inquiry told
Brian Cowen arriving at the Oireachtas bank inquiry in Leinster House on Wednesday. Photograph: Collins
The former taoiseach was questioned at the Oireachtas banking inquiry yesterday about correspondence exchanged between officials in the Department of Finance.
The emails, which discussed the future of Anglo, were sent on the day Mr Cowen attended a board dinner at the bank’s headquarters in Dublin on April 28th, 2008.
Mr Cowen said: “It’s an internal email that refers to some issue regarding the State Guarantees Act 1954.
“That relates to work that was being done in the domestic standing group regarding the question of the guarantee, making sure there were sufficient powers available if you were ever to do a guarantee, as a contingency planning measure.”
The former taoiseach added: “My evidence here last week is the same today. I didn’t discuss any issues of substance with Anglo Irish Bank officials then or subsequently.”
When questioned by inquiry chairman Ciarán Lynch, Mr Cowen said he did not recall being briefed ahead of the function on April 24th 2008.
However, “it may have been the case that some briefing material was given to me generally about Anglo Irish Bank on the basis that I was going down to a dinner there, but I don’t recollect anything about it, to be honest,” he said.
Mr Cowen was responding to a report in yesterday’s Irish Times which detailed an email sent between Department of Finance officials outlining possible solutions to Anglo’s problems. Later, Mr Cowen was questioned about a golf game he attended in July 2008 with the then Anglo chairman Seán FitzPatrick, non-executive director Fintan Drury, board member Gary McGann and a director of the Central Bank Alan Gray.
Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell asked if he had shown poor judgment by attending the outing. Mr Cowen said all of the individuals concerned would have rather it hadn’t happened considering the controversy surrounding it.
He said: “I want to assure the Irish people that I didn’t do anything untoward, or inappropriate, or discuss issues I shouldn’t be discussing with any individual bank at the expense or cost of anyone else, at that time or ever.”