As news of the evidence emerged yesterday, Fine Gael said it provided “even greater reason to disbelieve” Mr Ahern’s explanations for sums of money he accepted in the 1990s.
But a spokesman for Mr O’Callaghan described any suggestion Mr O’Callaghan bribed Mr Ahern as “simply untrue”.
Mr Dunphy was involved with Mr O’Callaghan in the 1990s on a project to build a soccer stadium in Dublin and attract British club Wimbledon FC to play there.
Several months ago, Mr Dunphy gave a statement to tribunal lawyers detailing his conversations with Mr O’Callaghan in this period. Mr Dunphy later submitted a formal, written statement.
In the first statement, as reported in yesterday’s Daily Mail, Mr Dunphy recalls Mr O’Callaghan saying: “The thing about Bertie is that he takes the money and he doesn’t do the business.”
Mr O’Callaghan was allegedly discussing how Mr Ahern, when finance minister in 1994, took some time before approving a lucrative tax designation for the developer’s Golden Island retail development in Athlone.
However, Mr Dunphy’s formal statement appears to be markedly different. “Other than generalisations about planning being ‘tricky’, Owen O’Callaghan made no overt references to payments to anybody,” he is reported as saying in the statement.
“Throughout my dealings with him, I found Owen O’Callaghan to be patient, businesslike and honest. At no stage during our project did he suggest anything untoward or in any way intimate that we might use inducements to achieve our objectives.” Mr Dunphy could not be reached for comment yesterday, but is scheduled to appear at the tribunal on an unspecified date after November 21.
A spokesman for Mr O’Callaghan said: “Mr Dunphy has to appear at the tribunal to elaborate on these matters. We would refer you to his formal statement to the tribunal [in which Mr Dunphy said Mr O’Callaghan was honest and had never suggested giving bribes].
“That statement reflects the factual position and any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue,” the spokesman concluded.
The Taoiseach refused to comment. However, Mr Ahern has repeatedly denied ever accepting money from Mr O’Callaghan.
But Fine Gael claimed Mr Dunphy’s testimony was “dramatic and damaging”.
“This new information… further undermines the Taoiseach’s already unbelievable explanation for the €300,000 worth of lodgments moving around his and his partner’s accounts,” said Fine Gael spokesman Senator Eugene Regan.
“We now have a highly respected independent broadcaster Eamon Dunphy asserting Owen O’Callaghan told him he [Mr Ahern] had been bought.”