Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Former Irish leader quits party

Bertie Ahern said leaving Fianna Fail was a 'political decision' and not an admission of wrongdoing

Former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern has resigned from his political party in the wake of a corruption inquiry.

Mr Ahern was accused of not telling the truth in findings of the Mahon Tribunal which examined his past finances.

Writing in Ireland's Sunday Independent, Mr Ahern said leaving Fianna Fail was a "political decision" and insisted it should not be interpreted as an admission of wrongdoing.

Mr Ahern's move pre-empted a Fianna Fail party meeting next week when members were due to vote whether to expel him and other party members named in the report.

Current party leader Micheal Martin proposed that his former colleagues be removed claiming Mr Ahern had betrayed the trust placed in him by his country and his party.

But the former Irish premier has vehemently defended his reputation and in the article in the Sunday Independent indicated he would challenge the findings.

The inquiry has shamed a series of senior figures in Fianna Fail, once considered the dominant, establishment party in Irish politics.

It did not brand Mr Ahern, the leader of three Irish coalition governments corrupt, but refused to accept any explanations he offered for a quarter of a million of bank lodgements he made in the early 1990s.

The tribunal panel sat for over 15 years, heard 900-plus days of public sittings and conducted extensive forensic financial trawls.

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.

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