Former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald has confirmed that AIB and Ansbacher wrote off debts of almost £200,000 that he owed them six years ago. He was in financial difficulties at the time because of the collapse of the aircraft leasing company, GPA, in which he was a shareholder. Dr Fitzgerald was quoted in today's Examiner newspaper as pointing out that the write off occured after he had left politics. He insisted that no favours were asked or given.

Responding to the report this morning, Dr Fitzgerald said the actions of AIB had nothing to do with the fact he was a former Taoiseach. He also said he believed his then Fine Gael colleague Peter Sutherland, who was chairman of AIB at the time, was unaware of the situation. Speaking on Morning Ireland he said he was treated in exactly the same way as other GPA shareholders.

The news follows revelations at the Moriarty Tribunal yesterday, about former Taoiseach Charles Haughey's personal finances, and his huge debts to AIB over a number of years. Today, three other former Taoisigh, Albert Reynolds, John Bruton and Liam Cosgrave, said they never had debts written off by any financial institution. Mr Reynolds said that while he banked with AIB, he had never enjoyed any write-off of any size, shape or form in his life. Mr Bruton and Mr Cosgrave said they did not bank with AIB and had not had any debts written off.