Forgery victim kept quiet for ‘good of the party’

A LOCAL election candidate who lost out to a party colleague who forged a letter containing Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s signature said yesterday he kept quiet about it “for the good of the party”.

Fianna Fáil’s Pat Rath knew of the forged endorsement of his running mate, former Junior Minister Lorcan Allen, two days before the electorate voted.

Mr Rath said yesterday he contacted Fianna Fáil headquarters on June 9 to be told a suspect letter purporting to be from the Taoiseach and circulated by the former Junior Minister, Lorcan Allen, was a forgery.

“As soon as the matter was brought to my attention on the Wednesday before the election by my director of elections, we phoned Fianna Fáil headquarters who assured us that the letter was not issued by the party.

“I knew that I could have gone to the media with it but felt that Fianna Fáil would have been destroyed by it. It would have backfired on the party.

“I might have salvaged my seat but it would have done massive damage to the party nationally and the opposition would have had a field day with it,” said Mr Rath.

Fianna Fáil headquarters confirmed yesterday that it was first alerted 48 hours before the election. It sent out an immediate media briefing. It is also planning a meeting between the general secretary and local candidates and a report to the officer board of the national executive on the matter.

While Cllr Allen has refused to resign over the matter, Mr Rath said: “I don’t regret anything in hindsight. I am born and bred Fianna Fáil and while some would say I sacrificed my seat on the matter, it was an easy decision to make.”

Fianna Fáil colleagues and opposition politicians who are members of Wexford County Council were yesterday putting pressure on Cllr Allen to step down.

Fianna Fáil’s Malcom Byrne said the matter was far from over, despite claims from Cllr Allen that his letter admitting liability in the controversy clarified the matter.

“Fianna Fáil will be considering this matter at the party national executive on Thursday week and in Gorey, we will have a meeting early next week of the Gorey Comhairle Ceanntar.

“Actions need to be taken but the full facts have to be established first. There is an issue now of him being accountable for his actions and this will have to happen.”

Independent councillor Padge Reek was insistent Allen should resign and criticised Labour and Fine Gael for supporting Fianna Fáil nominees to council committees without demanding Cllr Allen resign. Fine Gael and Labour rejected the criticism.

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