Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach's office stained - Kenny

Ireland's former taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has insisted he never accepted a bribe or corrupt payment after a long-awaited corruption inquiry found he did not tell the truth about a labyrinth of cash payments.

The 15-year Mahon Tribunal did not brand the leader of three coalition governments corrupt, but it refused to accept any explanations he offered for a quarter of a million of 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.

But Mr Ahern said the findings were not of a court of law and defended his reputation as having been dedicated to politics and serving the interest of the Irish people in politics. "I have never accepted a bribe or a corrupt payment," he said.

Mr Ahern said the tribunal had not made - nor could it make - a finding to support the "scurrilous and untrue allegation" that he had been paid off by Cork-based developer Owen O'Callaghan.

"On this key substantive point there is no evidence whatsoever to show I received anything from Mr O'Callaghan," he said. "Nor could there be because, put simply, this never happened."

Mr Ahern said it was no more than rumour and gossip. But current Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was without question that the office of leader of the Irish Government had been stained by Mr Ahern's actions.

"The tribunal speaks for itself - a litany of unacceptable statements from the former taoiseach," Mr Kenny said.

The Government is referring the report to the Garda Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Revenue Commissioners and the Standards in Public Office Commission.

The ruling national executive of Mr Ahern's Fianna Fail party will also meet next week to decide proposals by leader Micheal Martin to expel him and other party members named in the report.


From Belfast Telegraph