Fianna Fáil took revenge on RTÉ, says Mansergh

FIANNA Fáil were settling scores with RTÉ when disgraced former Communications Minister Ray Burke helped the rival Century Radio, a former adviser to Charles Haughey said last night.

Martin Mansergh, who worked as a key Fianna Fáil advisor for 20 years and who is now a senator, said he was not proud to admit his party was taking revenge on the State broadcaster because the party leadership believed it had cost them the 1989 election.

But he said the Flood Tribunal examination of the circumstances surrounding decisions taken to favour the ill-fated commercial station, Century Radio, failed to take that political context into account.

The senator said he did not believe financial contributions were the major motivation in relation to decisions concerning Century.

“RTÉ was blamed by Fianna Fáil for causing the unsatisfactory 1989 general election result, particularly the constant hammering about the crisis in the health service. There was quite a vindictive mood afterwards ,” Senator Mansergh told the Seanad last night.

Senator Mansergh was special advisor to FF leader Charles Haughey, when as head of a minority government he called an election two years into his term, in June 1989.

The party suffered a reversal and was afterwards forced to abandon a core value and enter coalition with the hated breakaway Progressive Democrats.

In a debate on the Flood Tribunal interim report, which excoriated Mr Burke who had resigned in disgrace in October 1997, Dr Mansergh said he welcomed the overall findings as positive and healthy.

However, he said there were a number of flaws - including a conclusion by Mr Justice Flood that payments to Mr Burke were linked to political decisions.

Dr Mansergh also regretted Fianna Fáil was besmirched in the past by the actions of some people, including a former leader.

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