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Brian Cowen is to defend record as Minister for Finance


Brian Cowen

Brian Cowen

Brian Cowen

FORMER Taoiseach Brian Cowen is to tell the banking inquiry that his decisions as finance minister were "prudent and cautious".

Mr Cowen  is ready to deliver a robust defence of his four-year term as finance minister from 2004-2008 - a period some analysts argue paved the way for the banking and economic crash in 2008.

The former Fianna Fail leader rejects this view, and will point to national and international analyses of the Irish economy at that time that helped inform his management decisions.

Mr Cowen is due before the Oireachtas banking inquiry on Thursday, where he will answer questions about his term as finance minister.

He returns to the inquiry the following week to discuss his time as Taoiseach (2008-2011) and he will reject claims that he "overruled" his finance minister, Brian Lenihan, over the bank guarantee.

The former Taoiseach will say that he "discussed options" with the late Mr Lenihan, who had at one stage in September 2008 favoured nationalising Anglo Irish Bank. Mr Cowen will insist that this was never a matter of conflict between the two men and they "chatted out" the issues before deciding to go with a blanket bank guarantee on the night of September 30, 2008.

Political sources have said Mr Cowen's presentation to the two inquiry sessions this week and next will focus on setting events in the context of their times.

"There is a great deal of hindsight since then. You look at the current Greek situation and you realise the need for decisions and action based on the knowledge and advice which you have. We can all be wise years after the event," the source told the Herald.

The banking inquiry, chaired by Cork Labour TD Ciaran Lynch, has been sitting since last December and is working to a tight deadline to deliver a report by next November. Its sessions are now gathering pace, with a series of high-profile witnesses due to appear.

Charlie McCreevy, finance minister from 1997 to 2004, will appear before the inquiry tomorrow.