AUDIO: Bertie sent a ‘rope with a noose’

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern was sent a “rope with a noose” in the aftermath of the economic crash, but has continued to reject claims that he is responsible for what happened.

AUDIO: Bertie sent a ‘rope with a noose’

The former Fianna Fáil leader revealed the “vicious” hate mail during an hour-long radio interview yesterday.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Sunday With Miriam programme, Mr Ahern echoed his bank inquiry performance last Thursday by refusing to accept he played a full role in the crash.

However, he said that, despite his insistence of innocence, some sections of the public still blame him for what happened.

“I got some horrendous mail and threatening calls. One individual sent me a rope with a noose,” he said.

Mr Ahern repeatedly refused to accept that he should have known what was going on in the Irish banking sector, saying this was solely an issue for the “entirely independent” Central Bank and Financial Regulator — despite appointing people to the former group and leading the government that set up the latter.

He accepted his role in taxation and construction policy issues linked to the crash, but said he was “horrified” to hear of the poor banking regulation, as he simply did not know about them.

Mr Ahern said it is not government’s job to “tell banks who to lend money to” and denied he was too close to developers, saying: “If they went to Fagan’s pub they would have got accessibility to me. Some people say I was too accessible.”

Asked about the Mahon Tribunal’s finding that his evidence was “untruthful”, Mr Ahern said “that’s his problem, he’s wrong” and will be “until the day I die”.

The ex-Fianna Fáil leader side-stepped questions when asked if he would consider rejoining his former party, which he repeatedly referred to as “we” despite leaving days after the Mahon Tribunal findings in 2012 and before a motion to expel him was heard.

When asked would he give up his €2,000 pension rise, Mr Ahern said gifting the money back to taxpayers is “complicated” and a matter for the Dáil.

A number of his political rivals at the time of the crash will appear before the banking inquiry this week. On Thursday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, Tánaiste Joan Burton, and Labour TD Pat Rabbitte will appear before the investigation to explain their roles during the Celtic Tiger era.

Meanwhile, the whistle-blower at the centre of an internal bank inquiry storm has had their pay suspended.

Last Wednesday, 24 hours before Mr Ahern’s hotly anticipated appearance, Fianna Fáil senator Marc Mac Sharry revealed the individual raised concerns previous witnesses — understood to be the Central Bank and Nama — received preferential treatment, including undocumented meetings with senior officials over dinners days before hearings.

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