Larkin: Ahern jogged my memory before testifying

TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern’s former partner Celia Larkin has admitted he helped to jog her memory about his financial affairs prior to her appearance before the Mahon Tribunal.

Tribunal lawyers noted inconsistencies between her previous statements and her evidence at Dublin Castle yesterday.

Ms Larkin conceded she had discussed with Mr Ahern the IR£28,772.90 given to him on December 5, 1994, by Manchester businessman Michael Wall since she was contacted by the tribunal.

Judge Gerald Keys noted Ms Larkin had previously failed to reveal she was in Mr Ahern’s constituency office St Luke’s, in Drumcondra, when the money was handed to him.

She said yesterday she was “surprised” when she saw bundles of cash on a table at St Luke’s. She said it was around £30,000 in sterling and not US$45,000, as alleged by the tribunal.

Mr Ahern put some of it in his safe and the next day she was asked to collect a briefcase with the cash and lodge it in an AIB account on the Monday.

Mr Keys asked Ms Larkin whether “clarifications” came from others assisting her and what had helped her “piece” her memory together.

She replied: “No, those clarifications came from my thinking very hard, discussing it with Bertie at various stages as well, what happened in relation to money.” She added: “It was Bertie who told me the weekend that it was because that never dawned on me at that stage.”

Including yesterday’s testimony, Ms Larkin has now given four different versions of events about the money given to Mr Ahern. She said yesterday her job was the “administration” of the cash, using it to refurbish a house, Beresford, rented from Mr Wall.

The money lodged was sterling, she said, although admitted she never checked it, counted it or looked at the exchange given when she delivered the cash-packed briefcase to the bank.

She added: “I don’t think there was ever any question with my life partner that he would think I had taken any money at all.”

During another transaction at AIB, O’Connell Street, Dublin in January 1995, Ms Larkin also withdrew IR£50,000 for Mr Ahern in cash, which she said was to be used to refurbish the house.

She carried the money from the bank in a parcel and got into a car to St Luke’s. It emerged yesterday for the first time that Mr Ahern had waited in the car for her around the corner while she collected the cash.

“It wasn’t my money and Bertie asked for it back... my best recollection is that Bertie drove the car,” Ms Larkin recalled.

“You have more ready access to it, Bertie dealt in cash. I think he felt more comfortable with it,” she added.

Ms Larkin added that she thought the money was put in a safe and then used as piecemeal to fix up Beresford with a conservatory, curtains and other “bits and bobs”.

In another transaction on behalf of Mr Ahern, Ms Larkin in June the same year put IR£11,743.74 into AIB, which was made up of £10,000 in sterling and IR£2,000.

She said she had no memory of Mr Ahern giving her the money or how she lodged it.

The tribunal said yesterday it plans to recall Ms Larkin to appear over the ownership of the Beresford house.

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