Ahern payments - Opposition let Taoiseach walk away

HAVING engulfed the nation, the political crisis over Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s financial affairs has fizzled out like a damp squib.

Undoubtedly, he was let off the hook by the failure of the combined opposition to land a knockout blow when he was on the ropes over the payments controversy.

Reiterating that he had done nothing wrong, the Teflon Taoiseach has lived up to his sobriquet as the most devious, the most ruthless and the most cunning of them all. His stonewall tactics and blunt refusal to answer further questions about the €50,000 he got as Minister for Finance from wealthy friends in Dublin and the €10,000 from businessmen in Manchester made yesterday’s session of leaders’ questions the shortest in history.

Morality and probity in politics have been undermined by this controversy. The Taoiseach’s reputation has been damaged, though not fatally. For abandoning their watchdog role, the PDs could pay a high cost in next year’s General Election.

But the opposition leaders must also ask why the Taoiseach, who was at his most vulnerable in 10 years, was able to walk away from the ring. A more credible opposition would have been more effective.

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