More FF members resign in wake of report

Two more Fianna Fáil members criticised in the damning Mahon Tribunal report resigned from the party yesterday ahead of a motion to expel them later this week.

This brings to four the number who have left Fianna Fáil after a pledge by party leader Micheál Martin that swift action would be taken following the report. Ex-taoiseach Bertie Ahern and former EU commissioner Pádraig Flynn officially resigned on Monday.

The party confirmed yesterday that former TD GV Wright and former senator and councillor Don Lydon had tendered letters of resignation to the party’s headquarters.

Mr Wright pocketed a total £12,000 in the early 1990s to back proposals for lands at Quarryvale in west Dublin.

He also pocketed £3,300 in “corrupt” payments in a systematic assault by a development group on elected councillors, it found.

The former TD took a corrupt payment of £5,000 for supporting the Ballycullen and Beechill projects and took £2,000 wrapped in a newspaper in the Leinster House visitors’ bar to back a change of use at Drumnigh.

Mr Lydon was given £9,000 by developers in relation to lands at Ballycullen and Beechill. The tribunal said he accepted an improper donation from lobbyist Frank Dunlop to support his re-election when he supported the Quarryvale plan.

Within an 18-month period, the tribunal said, he was paid £3,100 to help get land at Cherrywood rezoned.

Mr Martin had planned to bring motions to expel all four on Friday. Two further motions remained last night with a vote to expel former councillor Finbar Hanrahan, also criticised in the report, as well as a root and branch review of St Luke’s, the former constituency office of Bertie Ahern.

Former Fianna Fáil minister Willie O’Dea yesterday apologised for comments he made which may have undermined the inquiry.

Judge Mahon had accused members of Mr Ahern’s Cabinet of launching a sustained attack on it.

Mr O’Dea told TV3: “It wasn’t my intention at any stage to undermine or collapse the tribunal and maybe my remarks were a bit flippant. If they were offensive or flippant, I apologise for them. But I was entitled to criticise the fact that the tribunal was not proceeding with sufficient urgency.”

Meanwhile, Labour senator James Heffernan has called for portraits of past taoisigh tarnished by various tribunal findings to be taken off the walls of Leinster House.

Three out of the last four Fianna Fáil taoisigh were criticised by inquiries.

Former Fine Gael Dublin councillor Mary Muldoon also told Raidió na Gaeltachta she believed more than 50% of her fellow councillors at the time were taking bribes, dressed up as political donations.

Fine Gael’s disciplinary committee met last night to consider its response to Mahon concerning “inappropriate” payments received by councillor Therese Ridge and former councillor and now TD Olivia Mitchell. Another party councillor, Anne Devitt, resigned on Monday.

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