Wall’s election donation ended up in B/T account

A £2,000 STERLING donation from a Manchester businessman to aid a Fianna Fáil election campaign ended up in a bank account specifically set up to fund refurbishment work on Bertie Ahern’s constituency office, it emerged yesterday.

Michael Wall told the Mahon Tribunal that he had given the money on his own initiative to one of Mr Ahern’s associates, Tim Collins, around 1989, to assist the party in a local election.

Tribunal barrister Henry Murphy SC informed the Mayo-born businessman that the money had ended up in the “B/T” account.

The tribunal has established that the account was opened by a group of Mr Ahern’s friends and was outside the control of the official Fianna Fáil organisation in Dublin Central.

Asked if he was bothered by where the money was lodged, Mr Wall commented: “Well I hope it ended up in a good cause.”

Mr Wall told the tribunal that he attended an annual fundraising dinner in December for the Fianna Fáil O’Donovan Rossa cumann in Drumcondra for more than 15 years.

He said he had no interest in politics; he attended the dinner because it was a social event and also an occasion to bring people over from Manchester to Dublin.

Mr Wall said he normally paid for the dinner by cheque, which he sent to Mr Ahern’s associate, Joe Burke. “I had no interest whatsoever where [the money] was going,” he said.

Mr Wall, who ran a coach hire business in Manchester, described himself as a close friend of Mr Ahern.

Last year, Mr Wall said he gave Mr Ahern and Celia Larkin, around £30,000 in cash at St Luke’s in December 1994 towards renovating a property he intended to buy in Dublin.

Yesterday, he told the tribunal that he wanted to buy a house because his business regularly took him to Ireland. Mr Wall explained that it emerged Mr Ahern would be happy to rent any such property if he agreed.

Mr Wall said he placed an offer on the house he eventually bought at Beresford Avenue in Drumcondra without seeing its interior.

“It looked good on the outside, it had to be reasonable on the inside,” he said.

Asked if he had ever stayed in it while Mr Ahern was his tenant, Mr Wall replied: “I certainly did. And I could still stay there tonight if I wanted to.”

In 1997, Mr Ahern bought the property, which is still his private residence.

Ahern to return to Mahon

FORMER Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is due back at the Mahon Tribunal next week to answer more questions about his finances.

Mr Ahern is scheduled to appear before the inquiry at Dublin Castle for three days from next Wednesday. His former partner, Celia Larkin, has also been listed to give evidence next Tuesday.

The tribunal is investigating several large financial transactions in bank accounts linked to Mr Ahern as well as the background to the purchase of both his private residence and former constituency office in Drumcondra.

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