Ahern challenged to ask TD and senator to resign

The Taoiseach was today challenged to take action against a TD and senator under the spotlight of the Mahon Tribunal into planning corruption.

Greens leader Trevor Sargent said Taoiseach Bertie Ahern should ask Dublin North TD GV Wright and Senator Don Lydon to step aside.

Both Oireachtas members admitted at the Mahon Tribunal yesterday that they didn’t disclose rezoning donations to an internal Fianna Fáil inquiry in 2000.

Mr Sargent today asked Mr Ahern in the Dáil: “Is it credible for you to have a TD with no recollection of a €5,000 cheque, receiving it, cashing it, having it in his account?

“We’re talking about a senator who, with other Fianna Fáil and some Fine Gael councillors was apoplectic when I asked a basic question in 1993 if any councillor in Dublin Co Council received a cheque.

“He was apoplectic to the point that he got me in a headlock Taoiseach and went to grab a mere 100 pound cheque that had been sent to the Green Party.

“Taoiseach, is that acceptable behaviour from somebody in your party. Are you going to do anything about it? Are you going to expel them? Are you going to sever your links with white-collar crime? What does a person have to do to get thrown out of the Fianna Fáil party?”

Mr Ahern replied: “I’m certainly sorry if some of my party members caught Deputy Sargent in a headlock in 1993. If I had’ve been there, I would have stopped them.”

Ceann Comhairle Rory O’Hanlon earlier advised Mr Sargent these matters were currently under investigation by a Tribunal of Inquiry and should not be debated in the Dáil chamber.

Mr Sargent said that the 2000 internal Fianna Fáil inquiry into illegal payments to party members did not fall under the remit of the Tribunal.

He further asked of Mr Ahern: “Does he condone corruption, bribery, bad planning?”

He queried if Mr Ahern would ask Mr Wright and Senator Lydon to step aside.

Mr Ahern said that the Government and the Fianna Fáil party condemned wrongdoing in any area.

He added: “We set up the Moriarty Tribunal to investigate payments to politicians and we set up the Mahon Tribunal to investigate irregularities in the planning process and many other inquiries.

“I condemn any wrongdoing going on anywhere, including in Dublin Co Council.

“That is the position of the Government and that is the position of my party. I think Deputy Sargent knows that very well.

He continued: “If you want to know about my inquiry, I’ll fill you in on that if you fill me in on your chemical shares one.”

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