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This morning.

Former taoiseach Brian Cowen arrives at the Banking Inquiry at Leinster House, Dublin.

Mr Cowen will be questioned about his time as Finance Minister from 2004-2008.

More as we get it.

(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

Update:

cowenhearing

“I am sorry for the hardship and stress caused to many people.”

Brian Cowen this morning

Watch proceedings live here

48 thoughts on “He’s Back!

    1. scottser

      is it the sheer magnificence of his belly girth or the cheeky, alluring wobble of his jowl?

  1. John

    New Ireland media busy laying the groundwork for this all week (salaries and pensions exposè, etc.)

    At least he faces his critics like a man. He is answerable to the people of Tullamore who have been very happy with the huge personal sacrifices he made during the crisis years.

    Which is a lot more than can be said for cowardly non doms and quango bosses.

    Is what he has to put up with worth it? Anyway, he’s looking great and hope it all goes well and be can have a nice summer break with his family in peace.

    1. ReproBertie

      “He is answerable to the people of Tullamore”

      Is that why he chose not to run for re-election once he had sold our sovereignity and signed the state up to massive debt?

      1. ahjayzis

        Don’t jump to defend the discerning electorate of Tullamore.
        Those backward sister-marrying hicks replaced him with his equally cud-chewingly dim brother.

        1. ReproBertie

          Oh I wasn’t defending them at all. I was highlighting his lack of answerability.

    2. ahjayzis

      +1

      History will see him as one of Ireland’s greatest heroes. Tullamore should be renamed Cowentowen.

    3. scottser

      only answerable to the people of tullamore? the good folks of birr, shinrone et al must be feeling rightly p1ssed that the big man ain’t got their backs.

    1. ahyeah

      Comments about his appearance let you down (and any arguments or criticisms you might have)

      1. ahjayzis

        This is an inquiry, we have a right to know whether the fact he looks like a melted troll left in the sun had any effect on the ship of state!

  2. Paolo

    Any articles on the scenes outside Leinster House yesterday? A Garda was seriously injured by the peaceful protesters.

    1. Custo

      Yes, I’d especially like to read broadsheeters comments on Shatter calling the protesters ‘anti democratic facist thugs’ and Senator A.N. Other saying that people protesting outside the Dail was a ‘sad day for democracy’.

      1. Paolo

        It is anti-democratic to stop the elected politicians from working. That’s EXACTLY what it is. It is also unhelpful to real protesters when scumbags abuse other citizens and put public servants in hospital.

        Protest = Good
        Intimidation = Bad

    2. Steve

      Glad someone else brought this up, was gonna say something.

      It’s funny.

      Protestors block a main road in dublin, thereby swelling the numbers in support of their cause (Lolz). Some get manhandled out of way = accusations of police state, call for inquiry, gardai are arm of FG/labour blah blah blah.

      Female gardai injured trying to accommodate right to protest and right to bystanders to walk down Kildare st = silence.

      Note to legitimate protestors for any cause….scrotes don’t help you.

      I’ll give those fu&@tards the time of day when they turn up at the ballot box and come back with a mandate.

  3. Mikeyfex

    “Heyyy how’s the going.”
    “Johnny! How’s the missus? Not misses enough, wha?…Heh…Be good”
    “Stevie boy. How’s it hangin’? Hardly workin’…er, never mind…that kinda works actually”
    “Cheer up love it might never happen”
    “Howiye Frances, I know they say pressure’s for tires and bra straps but this is ridiculous…You have way over inflated that front wheel.”
    “Well Joey, how’s the liver? Ya? Still doing the sauteed onions with it ya? Put me down for two”
    “Murph! Murphy boy! AC/DC last night! ‘Oh won’t you fly-hi, free bird, ya-a-a’, awesome right?”
    “Who me? Ya, back in the big houssssaahh”
    “Ya, but you’re here for the banking inquiry, ya?”
    “A hole’s a hole my good man”

  4. Sam

    I’l just leave this here :

    Bowing to the bankers
    13 February 2011
    By Kathleen Barrington

    It was Friday October 13, 2006. Colm Breslin, a senior civil servant in the Department of Finance, was under pressure.

    He was being hounded by bankers demanding a new law that would make it easier for them to raise money to fuel their lending spree.

    The bankers had been seeking the changes since 2005, and they were growing impatient.

    The delays were largely because the Financial Regulator was questioning certain provisions in the proposed legislation, including one which would benefit Anglo Irish Bank.

    Just before 10 o’clock in the morning, Breslin sent an email to Enda Twomey, deputy chief executive of the Irish Banking Federation (IBF).

    ‘‘The IBF is certainly an effective lobby coordinator; we are under seige (sic) from reps from banks about slippages in the ACS time path,” he noted.

    ACS stands for the Asset Covered Securities Act. That was the legislation which the bankers were seeking to have amended (see panel below).

    But, as Breslin explained to Twomey in his e-mail, the Financial Regulator had ‘‘concerns.”

    So Pat Farrell, the powerful chief executive of the IBF and a former general secretary of Fianna Fáil, had been stepping up the pressure on finance minister Brian Cowen to get things moving.

    Just a few days earlier he had written a ‘‘Dear Brian’’ letter to Cowen expressing his ‘‘disappointment’’ that the timetable for the legislation had fallen behind schedule.

    Cowen had received similar letters from David Kelly, managing director of AIB Mortgage Bank; Michael Doherty, managing director of Germany’s WestLB and Austin Jennings, chief executive of Bank of Ireland Global Markets.

    Cowen was also coming under pressure from the masters of the banking universe, namely Gerhard E Bruckermann, the chief executive of Germany’s powerful Depfa Bank – which was operating from the Irish Financial Services Centre in Dublin – and David Drumm, chief executive of Anglo Irish Bank.

    Depfa and Anglo have since become bywords for bad banking with taxpayers picking up the tabs for their reckless lending. The cost to the Irish taxpayer of bailing out Anglo is now about €30 billion and rising, while the cost to the German taxpayer of bailing out Depfa amounts to about €100 billion.

    And, of course, it is also striking that the other Irish and German banks that lobbied for the legislation have all since had to be propped up at taxpayer expense.

    But back in 2006, bankers were calling the shots. Depfa’s Bruckermann demanded a meeting with Cowen to discuss an ‘‘urgent issue’’ relating to the proposed changes in the legislation.

    He warned that, ‘‘any delays in their introduction will have serious negative impacts, both for our business model, and for the reputation of the ACS market and Ireland’s international financial profile as a whole’’.

    Depfa was among the banks that wanted the so-called 50 times rule to be removed in the new legislation.

    The rule was a prudential measure which prevented banks from issuing more than 50 times their own funds in so-called ‘covered bonds’ (see panel).

    The bankers were arguing that the 50 times limit was too conservative.

    The bankers had already won the argument in Germany where the limit had been removed in 2005 legislation, legal sources explained. The IBF had been making the case that Ireland risked losing business back to Germany if Ireland failed to relax the rules. It seems that, in this respect at least, Ireland was simply falling in step with the Germans’ new, lower regulatory standards.

    Drumm, the €3 million-a year Anglo boss, also wrote to Cowen in October 2006 letting him know that Anglo was one of the major players behind the push for the legislative changes.

    ‘‘Anglo Irish Bank is a key sponsor of the proposed changes to the Irish ACS Act, in particular those provisions relating to the inclusion of commercial mortgage loans,” Drumm wrote.

    ‘‘I understand that the Department of Finance to date has been very supportive of the proposed changes to the Act. I am concerned, however, that the timetable for the proposed changes has fallen behind schedule and that the changes are now unlikely to be enacted in 2006.”

    The disclosure that Anglo Irish Bank was a key sponsor of the legislation is interesting, given that Anglo declined to comment last year when this newspaper enquired whether the bank had lobbied for the introduction of the legislation.

    Just why the state-owned bank chaired by former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes withheld this information from the public is not clear.

    By October, the bankers’ tone in their dealings with the Department of Finance had hardened compared with six months previously when Bank of Ireland chief executive Brian Goggin had led a charm offensive.

    In May, the €4 million-a year Bank of Ireland boss had been so delighted with the reception he got from the finance minister that he wrote to Cowen a few days late to thank him in the most effusive terms.

    ‘‘I can honestly say that I find it hard to remember when I have had as enjoyable, insightful and stimulating few hours’ discussion,” Goggin said.

    ‘‘You raised a particularly interesting issue, indeed challenge, on the question of influencing or at least informing the debate on where and how we take forward this great project that is modern Ireland, a place that is so very different and has so much greater potential than earlier generations could have dreamed of,” he said.

    Goggin promised to give the issue further thought. In the meantime, though, he enclosed a note for Cowen on the success of the earlier ACS legislation which, he argued, had promoted ‘‘a very positive image of Ireland abroad’’.

    But by October, the bankers were getting worried they wouldn’t get their coveted new legislation ahead of the 2007 general election.

    On the very day that Breslin, the harried civil servant, wrote that he was under siege from the bankers, a new front was opening in the battle to get the legislation passed.

    On Friday 13 also, Sean Dorgan, the chief executive officer of the IDA wrote a letter to Cowen pointing out that the country’s reputation for delivering necessary changes promptly would ‘‘be damaged’’ if the legislation wasn’t passed.

    ‘‘Our understanding is that a great deal of work has gone into the preparation of this bill and that it will raise no controversy,” Dorgan assured Cowen.

    Later that month, Cowen received another letter on the matter, this time from his boss. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern reminded Cowen that he (Ahern) had effectively promised the banks the legislation would be delivered.

    1. Just sayin'

      There’s a huge amount of pressure still to follow “international best practice” and not be seen to put Ireland at a “competitive disadvantage”. I’m not sure we wouldn’t do the same thing now.

      1. Sam

        I refer you to something that you probably heard growing up ‘if your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it too?’

        The downside was very obvious. The rules for banking weren’t put in place on a whim, but as a reaction to previous failures. Ignoring them, simply because the plebs will bear the brunt isn’t good governance. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the gombeens would do it again, but if the public fell for it twice, it would be a black stain on the people.

      2. classter

        And so there should be. There should be pressure to follow ‘international best practice’ and not put Ireland at a ‘competitive disadvantage’.

        The point is that the civil service & polticians need to be sufficiently competent, informed & public-spirited to decide when such an action is reasonable or not.

  5. ollie

    Brian Cowen, a feckless gobshite who the Irish taxpayer funds to the tune of €74 an hour.

    Achievements:
    1.Made the word biffo internationally recognised
    2.Got a portrait of himself having a sh*t displayed in the national gallery
    3. Played golf with Anglo Irish Bank directors 2 months beofre the bank guarantee but didn’t discuss it with them.
    4. Convinced Denis O’Brien to make him a director of Topaz on pure merit, not as a favour for favours.
    5. Bought the Galway tent for a fiver from Fianna Fail and made it into 2 pairs of very large y fronts.
    6. Made Roy Hattersley’s chin look like the Sahara Desert.
    7. Won the Irish Independent award for “worst Taoiseach in the History of the State”
    8. First ex Taoiseach to be called a “f***ing melted cheesehead”.
    9. Never gave a radio interview while inebriated.

  6. Daisy Chainsaw

    Poor Brian really looks like he’s suffered some awful hardship these last few years.

  7. Carlos Strange

    One thing that’s clear from his testimony so far. He very, very much respects the fact that other people know how to suck eggs, and he very, very much doesn’t feel he has the need, nor right, to express to them how to suck eggs.

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