Cabinet to sign off on new legislation

Tuesday 11 January 2011 23.05
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John Gormley - Found no evidence of impropriety
John Gormley - Found no evidence of impropriety
Sean FitzPatrick - Played golf with Mr Cowen in July 2008
Sean FitzPatrick - Played golf with Mr Cowen in July 2008
Sunday Times - Revelations about contacts between Taoiseach and former Anglo boss
Sunday Times - Revelations about contacts between Taoiseach and former Anglo boss

The Cabinet is to meet again tomorrow to finalise the list of legislation it hopes to get through the Oireachtas before the General Election.

Ministers attended a three hour meeting this evening, ahead of the return of the Dáil tomorrow afternoon.

Proceedings in Leinster House will be clouded by the controversy over Taoiseach Brian Cowen's contacts with former Anglo Irish Bank Chairman Séan FitzPatrick, which are expected to dominate business.

Earlier, Green Party leader John Gormley criticised Mr Cowen for not disclosing details of his contacts Mr FitzPatrick.

The Green Party met in Malahide in Dublin this morning to discuss the weekend revelations that Mr Cowen and Mr FitzPatrick had dinner and played golf just two months before the bank guarantee.

Mr Gormley said the party had tried to establish whether there had been any impropriety involved, but had found no evidence of it.

He said: 'We believe that the Taoiseach should himself have put these matters into the public domain much earlier.

'The manner in which they have been made public has, unfortunately, given rise to suggestions about inappropriate behaviour.'

Mr Gormley said the Green Party had contacted the secretary of the Department of Finance and had been assured no representations had been made, but he said 'we're not Sherlock Holmes.'

However, the Green Party leader said his party remains committed to passing the Finance Bill and would remain in Government until then.

The Sinn Féin leader in the Dáil, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, has described as 'pathetic' the Green Party's response to the revelations of contacts between Mr Cowen and Mr FitzPatrick.

Mr Ó Caoláin said there seemed to be nothing that Fianna Fáil could do to prompt the Greens to leave Government.

Labour Party Leader Eamonn Gilmore has said he expects the gardaí to interview Mr Cowen about conversations he had with Mr FitzPatrick.

Mr Gilmore said the Taoiseach was aware that the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the gardaí were both investigating what was going on in Anglo Irish Bank, and he presumed the gardaí will question the Taoiseach about what Mr FitzPatrick said to him.

In the statement last night, Mr Cowen rejected any suggestion of impropriety, accusing his opponents of drawing 'malicious and unfounded' inferences from his contacts with the former banker.

Mr Cowen's statement came after a day of Opposition calls for an explanation and a telephone conversation with Mr Gormley.

He confirmed playing golf with Mr FitzPatrick at Druids Glen in July 2008, but insisted the affairs of Anglo Irish Bank were not discussed on the day.

The Taoiseach also confirmed receiving a phone call from Mr FitzPatrick in March of that year about Sean Quinn's shareholding in the bank.

However, Mr Cowen said he had already been briefed on the issue by the Governor of the Central Bank.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Labour Finance Spokesperson Joan Burton said the Taoiseach should have been more frank about his contacts with Mr FitzPatrick.