Wednesday 7 December 2016

Ahern hits out at 'trash' in tribunal ahead of findings

Barry Lenihan and Fionnan Sheahan

Published 29/08/2011 | 05:00

FORMER Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has made a pre-emptive strike on the Mahon Tribunal ahead of the publication of its final report.

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The former Fianna Fail leader described the focus on the evidence about his personal finances as "trash".

The planning tribunal is widely expected to make findings on Mr Ahern's testimony about his labyrinthine financial affairs

He rejected suggestions the tribunal would dismiss his evidence about aspects of his personal finances. "Well, I don't know that," he said. "The 'Daily Mail' said that. I wouldn't believe the date on the 'Daily Mail'. So, you know, I haven't got a clue what'll be in it.

"The only thing that's important to me is the central allegation that has been made against me. Well, there's four: Did I interfere in the designation of Blanchardstown / Quarryvale? That's number one. Number two, did I interfere with the planning of Quarryvale / Blanchardstown? Number three, did I take money from O'Callaghan? Number four, did I take money from any of the six companies named?

"They're the only issues that matter. And the answer to the four of those, as far as I'm concerned, is 'No'.

"Now what the tribunal says about all the other trash is irrelevant. That's all irrelevant. The answer to those four questions is the important thing," he added in an interview with Dublin City University's student radio station DCUfm.

The Mahon Tribunal is expected to issue its final report before the end of the year.

Crucial

Fianna Fail's response to the findings is viewed as crucial to the party's efforts to distance itself from the past.

Meanwhile, the perks given to former Taoisigh are being examined again as Mr Ahern continues to claim more in expenses than his counterparts.

He claimed €265,000 for secretarial services and €7,500 on mobile-phone bills since resigning as Taoiseach in 2008.

But his claims are far higher than fellow former Taoisigh Albert Reynolds and John Bruton, who also avail of the state-funded services.

The Government provides the former Taoisigh with the services to assist them in carrying out their role as members of the Council of State and other public engagements.

The Department of Finance said every aspect of spending was under review as the Government prepared for the Budget, including the services for former Taoisigh.

Irish Independent

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