Bye, bye Bertie, you are finished

BERTIE AHERN is finished.

During his last day of evidence regarding his tangled personal finances to the Mahon corruption probe he had just explained yet another lodgment into yet another account, when the more touchingly innocent of the tribunal’s senior counsels, Henry Murphy, said to him: “But that doesn’t seem to make sense.”

Oh, Henry! It’s Bertie and a bank account, of course it’s not going to make any sense.

Where have you been for his past year in the witness box? You should know the rules of the game by now, Henry.

It’s simple — first the tribunal finds a mystery sterling lodgment, Bertie tries to brush it away with an extraordinary, often ludicrous “explanation” (“I won it on the horses, your honour...”), the inquiry can’t disprove his version of events, then we all move on to the next mystery sterling lodgment — and so it goes.

It was a variation on the theme when Bertie denied he was really the owner of Beresford Avenue and Manchester millionaire Michael Wall was just a front name on the documents.

No one could prove it wasn’t so, but things would certainly make a lot more sense if they could.

Such as, why Mr Wall would leave the house to his tenant Mr Ahern in a will, and to Mr Ahern’s daughters Georgina and Cecilia should their father predecease the official owner.

You may recall Mr Wall from his colourful evidence regarding how he stashed £30,000 in a Dublin hotel wardrobe overnight and then plonked the used notes down on Bertie’s St Luke’s desk the next day to pay for refurbishing the house he had yet to formally buy. It explained another (untraceable) mystery sterling lodgment at the time — and who’s to say it wasn’t true?

However, if the incident had been dreamt up as a children’s fairytale it would have been called The Buying, The Rich And The Wardrobe.

But going back to that curious will. Bertie said he had known nothing about it and Mr Wall couldn’t even remember making it. However, the ex-Taoiseach did grudgingly concede that it meant he would have inherited the house, but only “legally”.

That’s all right then if it was just “legally”. Mr Ahern insisted he would have paid Wall’s widow for the pad anyhow. Which is out of character as he failed to return the so-called “dig out” loans to widows of two of the men who supposedly gave him the “debts of honour”.

But Bertie hadn’t even wanted the house to begin with. Oh no, he and Celia had their hearts set on another one nearby, but Mr Wall had put his foot down — even though the businessman admits he’d never seen the inside of the Beresford abode.

Strangely, Bertie had only viewed the house he preferred from the outside also. Bizarrely, it seems Bertie, Celia and Michael would sit outside Drumcondra properties and — in the manner of devious wheelchair user Andy in Little Britain — point randomly at houses they had never seen the insides of and demand: “I want that one!”

There was a strange Monty Python moment when we stumbled on the sleeping arrangements in the Beresford flophouse.

Mr Ahern attempted to explain away why the official owner Mr Wall did not seem to remember when he stayed there.

Mr Ahern insisted his friend did know when he was there but: “He didn’t want to get into the issue of whose bedroom he was in.”

There then followed a brief, dramatic, pause before Mr Ahern added: “He was never in my bedroom.”

A member of the public gallery shouted out: “Are you sure?” to which Mr Ahern replied: “Positive.”

So it’s nearly, bye, bye Bertie. (He has one day back at the Castle to discuss Quarryvale 2.) Then the tribunal must consider its findings and their impact on his reputation. Unlike a court of law it decides on the balance of probabilities — or in the ex-Taoiseach’s case, the balance of improbabilities.

Bertie Ahern is finished.

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