If Cowen did not ask Fitzpatrick about Anglo, why not?

The issue of easy access has been raised as a concern for people in recent days, due to revelations regarding the Taoiseach’s golf outing with Sean Fitzpatrick. I agree that easy access is a question of some concern, but while it is important I do not agree it is the most important issue. For months and months in 2008 there must have been exchanges and contact between the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance, the Central Bank, the regulator and Anglo Irish Bank.

It would be extraordinary if such contacts were not made. We know that as early as March 2008 the bank was sliding. Even though I am very critical of the Government I cannot believe there was no contact about it. We know the Taoiseach took a phone call on the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day. There are many questions concerning whether he followed up on that. He said he would raise the issue with the Central Bank. Did he ask the Central Bank or the regulator after the meeting on 21 March what happened at the meeting? He must have taken an interest. It would be a dereliction of duty if he did not. Fianna Fáil sometimes seem to think that an independent regulatory system is a way of hiding away from making decisions. It is not; having independent regulators is an important, prudent way of doing business. It is not an excuse for the Government to say it has nothing to do with it.

For months in 2008 there must have been contacts. It points to the real failure of the Houses to have a genuinely robust examination of what the Government was doing and saying, what inquiries it made and what concerns it expressed to the regulator and the Central Bank throughout 2008. The issue I have in regard to the golf outing is not easy access, which is wrong and should be criticised. Why, as Deputy Pat Rabbitte said recent days, is it believable that the Taoiseach, who spent a day with the head of a bank that was going down the toilet in July 2008, would not ask him a question on how things were? It beggars belief. If he did not ask him, why not? He must have asked him. The Taoiseach and the Government must have known what other people could see was happening in 2008. I do not buy the contention that nothing was said throughout the period in question. I would be critical of the Taoiseach and Government if nothing was said. Something must have been said. Those questions deserve to be answered.