Belfast Telegraph

Ahern party resignation confirmed

Former leader and taoiseach Bertie Ahern has resigned as a Fianna Fail member over the Mahon findings, the party has confirmed.

After he wrote two articles for national newspapers to defend his tarnished reputation, the party he led for 14 years said it had received a letter.

A spokeswoman said: "Fianna Fail has this morning received correspondence from former leader Bertie Ahern confirming his resignation from the party."

South Dublin councillor John Hannon, who was found to have taken corrupt payment over a planning decision, has also resigned.

The Fianna Fail spokeswoman said a meeting to discuss the futures of several others, including ex-minister Padraig Flynn, will go ahead on Friday.

"Our special Ard Comhairle meeting will continue as planned on Friday March 30 to debate the expulsion motions being brought against those other individuals named by the party leader last week, and to discuss the review of the organisation in Dublin Central."

Although no finding of corruption was made against Mr Ahern, Judge Alan Mahon said he did not believe the then taoiseach's evidence on his financial affairs and payments of more than a quarter of a million pounds into accounts linked to him between 1993 and 1995.

Mr Flynn, who served as a European Commissioner, was found to have secured a donation for Fianna Fail only to keep it for himself and use the money to buy a farm. Former ministers Ray Burke and the late Liam Lawlor were also fiercely criticised for their behaviour. Others in Fianna Fail singled out by the tribunal and facing expulsion at the Friday meeting are councillors GV Wright, Don Lydon and Finbar Hanrahan. There has been no indication from the Flynn family in Mayo of the former commissioner's intentions.

In an article in the Irish Times, Mr Ahern described his resignation as a real emotional wrench and warned that he will vindicate his good name. The three-times taoiseach reiterated that he has never taken a corrupt payment and claimed that he told the truth at the tribunal.

Meanwhile, the disciplinary committee of Fine Gael will meet this week to deal with findings against members including Olivia Mitchell TD, who took IR£500 from corrupt lobbyist and former government press secretary Frank Dunlop while holding a council seat. Another Fine Gael member, Anne Devitt, a sitting councillor, was found to have behaved inappropriately over the Cargobridge lands.

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