Speculation growing over publication of final Mahon report

Speculation growing over publication of final Mahon report

Speculation is mounting that publication of the long-awaited final report of the Mahon Tribunal is imminent.

Press reports today indicated that the report could be published tomorrow morning.

The marathon tribunal, which sat for the last time in 2008 and lasted 917 days in total, was set up to examine allegations of planning corruption and payments to politicians.

It is expected to cost the Government around €300m.

Revelations around former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will be closely watched after Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin recently said that he would deal "swiftly and comprehensively" with anyone found by the tribunal to have engaged in wrongdoing.

Mr Ahern was questioned by the tribunal over his financial affairs in the early 1990s and allegations he received payments from property developer Owen O'Callaghan when he was finance minister.

Although he denied any wrongdoing, the tribunal’s revelations and Mr Ahern’s conflicting explanations for irregularities in his personal finances led to his shock resignation in May 2008.

Mr Ahern, who made 15 appearances at the public inquiry between April 2004 and September 2008, insisted the period under scrutiny was one of the most difficult of his life as he was going through marriage separation, had no home of his own and was not using bank accounts as his marriage came to an end.

Judge Alan Mahon will submit his final report to Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett prior to its official publication. The tribunal chairman is not obliged to inform the Government in advance as to the report's publication date.

The tribunal was set up by Mr Ahern’s Fianna Fáil government in 1997 and was originally sparked by 'cash for votes' accusations in Dublin councils in the early 1990s, which spread to include big hitters in Fianna Fáil.

TDs, ministers and former taoisigh all gave evidence to the inquiry, which heard from 400 witnesses and examined 130,000 pages of documents.

Three high-profile figures: former minister Ray Burke, former assistant Dublin city and county manager George Redmond, and lobbyist Frank Dunlop – were found to have either arranged or accepted payments, while the late Liam Lawlor was jailed for non co-operation.

Others anxiously awaiting the fallout include former MEP Padraig Flynn, builders-turned-whistleblowers, as well as four former Fianna Fáil councillors and a Gibraltar-based businessman who have been charged over land deals.

Speaking today, Minister of State at the Departments of Health and Justice Kathleen Lynch said lessons can be learned from Mahon.

"Knowing what happened is important," the Labour politician said.

"It does all gel together - the whole notion of 'we're in government (and) we can do what we like'.

"That notion of having responsibility to the citizen went out the door, and that can never again happen," she added.

"And I think that's what the Mahon Tribunal (report) will tell us."

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