FF forger not ‘let off the hook’, says Ahern

THE Government last night insisted Fianna Fáil councillor Lorcan Allen, who sent letters to more than 2,000 constituents with the forged signature of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, has not been “let off the hook”.

Mr Ahern yesterday said: “I did not have any prior knowledge that my signature was to be used on a letter to voters in Gorey.

“Had I known, naturally I would have taken steps to ensure it would not happen. Something like that should not happen. The general secretary of the Fianna Fáil Party is reporting to the national executive on that matter next week,” he said.

Mr Ahern insisted that the matter is being dealt with and that issues about the use of Oireachtas envelopes to circulate the bogus letter will be addressed by the Standards in Public Office Commission.

Two Fianna Fáil TDs in the area, John Browne and Tony Dempsey, have both insisted that the envelopes did not come from them. And the Government Chief Whip, Mary Hanafin, has promised a full probe into the matter.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the matter was a very serious one. “People were asked in the Taoiseach’s name to vote in a particular way. This ethical scandal comes in a long list.

“The letter makes for interesting reading. It calls for support for a candidate whom it describes as ‘patriotic and honest’. I understand this letter was sent to over 2,000 constituents.

“If the Taoiseach does not take action, he is likely to have a situation arise where his name and title could be used in anything from an application from a student for a job in McDonald’s to somebody wishing to enter the United States with a reference from Bertie Ahern,” Mr Kenny said.

But Mr Ahern reiterated: “The individual concerned has already said he is totally guilty, the letter was forged and it was an inappropriate use. It is now a matter for the party to deal with. That is the procedure.

“The person has stated it was a misuse and an abuse and that he was totally incorrect to use the signature. I have given a reply on the matter and it now falls on my party to deal with it. That is all I can say.”

Meanwhile, Independent councillor on Wexford County Council, Padge Reek said he will not be going to the gardaí to complain about the matter.

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