Belfast Telegraph

WikiLeaks: Ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern did not receive corrupt payments, said top US diplomat

By Shane Phelan

America's most senior diplomat in Ireland did not believe former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern received any corrupt payments, a leaked US embassy cable reveals.

Former ambassador Thomas Foley reported to the office of then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Mr Ahern’s travails at the Mahon Tribunal — a public inquiry set up in the Republic to investigate allegations of corrupt payments to politicians

The ambassador said that while allegations of corruption remained, “almost no one believes Ahern took bribes for personal gain”.

“His frugal lifestyle is apparent to all,” the ambassador wrote.

The comments are contained in a cable sent in October 2007 when Mr Ahern comfortably defeated a motion of no confidence tabled by Fine Gael in the Dail following disclosures at the tribunal.

The dispatch was one of 14 cables dealing with the tribunal sent from the US embassy in Dublin.

The cables reveal how embassy officials followed the tribunal closely and reported in detail to Washington and elsewhere on the unfolding evidence and political reaction to it.

Frequent assessments were made of the stability of the Fianna Fail-led coalition governments in the Republic with the Progressive Democrats and the Greens following each new disclosure about Mr Ahern’s personal finances.

The Mahon tribunal is yet to report following its investigations into several sums of money received by Mr Ahern, many of which the former Taoiseach described as “dig outs” from friends.

Despite his acceptance that Mr Ahern had not acted corruptly, it is clear from the cables that Ambassador Foley still recognised the allegations were very damaging to the former Irish leader.

WikiLeaks: US Embassy Cables
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