Kenny: Mahon shows series of unacceptable statements from Ahern

Enda Kenny has said the Mahon tribunal report confirms Bertie Ahern had made "a litany of unacceptable statements" about a labyrinth of cash payments.

Enda Kenny has said the Mahon tribunal report confirms Bertie Ahern had made "a litany of unacceptable statements" about a labyrinth of cash payments.

Bertie Ahern - the leader of three coalition governments - is now awaiting Fianna Fáil's verdict after the 15-year Mahon Tribunal issued its damning indictment this afternoon.

While it did not find evidence of corruption involving Mr Ahern, it refused to accept any explanations he offered for bank lodgements he made in the early 1990s.

“Much of the explanation provided by Mr Ahern as to the source of the substantial funds identified and inquired into in the course of the tribunal’s public hearings was deemed by the tribunal to have been untrue,” the report concluded.

Expulsion from the Fianna Fáil party which he led to electoral success in 1997, 2002 and 2007 now looks likely.

When asked whether the Taoiseach's office had been tarnished by Mr Ahern’s actions, Enda Kenny said that question did not require an answer, because: “The tribunal speaks for itself – a litany of unacceptable statements from the former Taoiseach."

All of Mr Ahern’s explanations for convoluted transactions were branded untrue - wins on the horses, dig-outs from friends, unsolicited handouts from 20 millionaires, six years of savings and refusal to use bank accounts.

Neither could he explain why the money was coming in old Irish punts, sterling and US dollars.

As for former Cabinet colleagues – three of whom are still in frontline politics including current leader Micheál Martin, Willie O’Dea and Eamon O Cuiv - they also have serious questions to answer after Judge Alan Mahon’s ruling.

The inquiry chief used his final report to launch a withering attack on the ex-ministers who rolled out to defend their Taoiseach in his final months as leader.

In a section headlined 'Integrity and Independence of the tribunal', Judge Mahon claims his work was savagely attacked and undermined.

“It (the tribunal) came under sustained and virulent attack from a number of senior Government ministers who questioned the legality of its inquiries as well as the integrity of its members,” the report said.

“It was entirely inappropriate for members of the Government to launch such unseemly and partisan attacks against a tribunal of inquiry... to inquire into serious concerns regarding corruption in public life.

“There appears little doubt that the objective of these extraordinary and unprecedented attacks on the tribunal was to undermine the efficient conduct of the tribunal’s inquiries, erode its independence and collapse its inquiry into that individual.

“They were as regrettable as they were ill-considered and unfounded.”

A spokesman for Mr Ahern said: “Mr Ahern is reviewing the final report of the Mahon Tribunal and will issue a statement in due course.”

Fianna Fáil will meet tonight to decide on Mr Ahern’s future after Mr Martin insisted last month there would be swift action “without fear or favour”.

Meanwhile, the Government said it would refer the report to the Garda Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Revenue Commissioners and to the Standards in Public Office Commission.

The inquiry itself over 15 years, 900-plus days of public sittings, and mind boggling forensic financial trawls, has shamed a series of senior figures in Fianna Fáil, once considered the dominant, establishment party in Irish politics.

Mr Ahern’s political legacy has been shattered – none of his evidence for lodgements of more than IR£250,000 between 1993 and 1995 has been accepted. The inquiry also warned it could not find where some money came from.

Judge Mahon said he could not rule out or establish any basis in the allegations that Mr Ahern had been paid off by a developer, Cork businessman Owen O’Callaghan with IR£80,000.

Mr Ahern, ironically the man who ordered the tribunal in 1997, was investigated as the inquiry into planning for a major shopping centre in west Dublin became murkier and murkier. Mr O’Callaghan was alleged by another developer, Tom Gilmartin, to have boasted about the pay-off.

A former Minister and European Commissioner Padraig Flynn was found to be corrupt. He took IR£50,000 from a developer who felt under duress and coerced. The money was supposedly for the Fianna Fáil party but went towards buying a farm in Mayo.

Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds was tipped off about the deal when assembling a Cabinet in 1994 but took no action.

Other Fianna Fáil figures named include Liam Lawlor, who died in a car crash in Moscow in 2005, and who was branded corrupt for forcing payments out of Mr Gilmartin as he looked to build around Bachelor’s Walk in Dublin city centre.

He claimed to be acting on behalf of the government and took IR£75,000 over 11 months from mid-1988.

Mr Lawlor, who spent six weeks in jail for refusing to co-operate with the tribunal, was also found to have demanded a 20% stake in Quarryvale, where the Liffey Valley shopping centre now stands.

Elsewhere, a Garda investigation in the late ’80s was also criticised. The inquiry found complaints were not thoroughly investigated and that Mr Lawlor’s position as a TD may have played a part in a decision not to interview him.

A Garda report went so far to exonerate Mr Lawlor.

More in this section

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.