Fianna Fáil move to expel Ahern

Bertie Ahern faces a humiliating political end – expulsion from the party he once led along with corrupt former representatives Padraig Flynn and three ex-councillors.

Bertie Ahern faces a humiliating political end – expulsion from the party he once led along with corrupt former representatives Padraig Flynn and three ex-councillors.

The three time taoiseach’s future as a party veteran will be decided next Friday in a special vote by the national executive.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin last night said Mr Ahern had betrayed the trust placed in him by the public and colleagues.

“The receipt by a senior office holder of large amounts of money which a sworn Tribunal has held is of unclear origins and the failure to give any credible explanation requires an unequivocal response,” he said.

“No matter how high a member rises within the party and in elected office, they still carry a duty of trust for the members of Fianna Fáil and for the people who elected them.”

Insiders have spoken of a party in disarray after the inquiry’s damning findings and, in particular, Judge Alan Mahon’s withering criticisms of Mr Ahern’s cabinet with some stepping up to attack the tribunal.

Dick Roche suggested the investigation was voyeurism, Mr Martin himself said bizarre while others pointed to its long duration or forensic trawl.

Mr Martin said he takes the judge’s accusations seriously but warned the inquiry did not make any findings against ministers.

The Fianna Fáil leader also passed a motion for the expulsion of former TD Mr Flynn.

The report found that he accepted payments from property developer Tom Gilmartin, which he used for his own benefit – behaviour Mr Martin described as a disgrace and a betrayal of the Irish people.

Ex-councillors GV Wright, Finbar Hanrahan and Don Lydon also face the boot from the party for being found to have taken corrupt payments during their time in office.

Earlier, insiders said it was impossible to continue defending Mr Ahern.

“You defend your leader until it becomes indefensible,” a party source said.

“Bertie always had an excuse and you juxtaposed what you heard at the tribunal with the man you knew. But in the end it became impossible to believe him.”

But Fianna Fáil stalwarts were quick to defend current leader Mr Martin and surviving members of Mr Ahern’s Cabinet Willie O’Dea and Éamon Ó Cuív, who still sit in the Dáil.

Despite the scandalous revelations from Mahon, Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman Dara Calleary denied that permanent damage has been done to the party.

He argued that Fianna Fáil is now completely different from Mr Ahern’s era.

“We have thousands of members around the country,” said Mr Calleary.

“They are decent, ordinary hard-working people. We have had issues but we’ve completely changed our party.”

The report fired a damning broadside at some of Mr Ahern’s Cabinet colleagues - some on the current frontbench – accusing them of attacking and trying to derail the tribunal in support of their leader.

But the party source said not all individuals in Fianna Fáil should be tarred with the one brush.

The former taoiseach was forced to resign from the post in 2008 as the scandal over allegations at Mahon grew and grew, but he remained a member of the party and even attended the annual Ard Fheis earlier this month.

READ THE FINAL MAHON REPORT HERE

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