Sunday 19 February 2017

Highlights of Bertie Ahern’s evidence to Mahon Tribunal

Published 22/03/2012 | 15:22

THE Mahon tribunal rejected Bertie Ahern's evidence on his banking and financial affairs.

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Looking back, the then Taoiseach's 15 colourful days in the witness box in Dublin Castle were some of the highlights of a marathon investigation.

- On September 13 2007, Mr Ahern was adamant about dealing in US bills: "There are no dollars. There were never any dollars. It is a complete red herring."

- A day later he admitted receiving an envelope stuffed with £8,000 in £50 notes, unsolicited, after speaking at a function in a Manchester hotel in 1994 to a crowd of about 20 extremely wealthy Irish ex-pat businessmen "worth about £50m each".

- Later that month the then Taoiseach repeated his denials of taking a bribe. With tempers fraying, he also warned he did not know when his ex-girlfriend Celia Larkin drove him to a bank on Dublin's O'Connell Street to make a lodgement.

"If I was to remember every time I drove up and down O'Connell Street, I'd be doing well," he said.

- In December that year he was back on the stand again answering questions about bank accounts, or the absence of them: "There's nothing in the law or the constitution that I have to have a bank account," he said.

"Some people dye their hair yellow or put rings in their noses. I decided I wasn't going to open an account. Put it the other way round - there was no reason that I should."

- Mr Ahern defended his affairs in February 2008 when it emerged lodgements in 1993/94 were up to three times his salary at the time.

He denied using party funds to feather his nest, adding: "I actually have a good record over the years of giving money to the party, like election spending refunds, when I could, strictly speaking, keep it myself."

- Then came the win on the horses. He alleged £8,000 from racing bets was paid into his daughters' bank accounts in 1996: "I am interested in horse racing and... I have won various sums of money. Some of these would have been won in Sterling."

- By 2008 Mr Ahern was in a dogfight for political survival and accused the tribunal of trying to "hang" his former aide, mother-of-three Grainne Carruth, who broke down in tears while giving evidence only to later expose her boss for dealing in Sterling.

- An emotional Mr Ahern ended his evidence to the Mahon tribunal with a parting accusation that its lawyers tried to 'trap and trick' him and claimed political foes had waged an eight-year campaign to wreck his good name and reputation.

"I never in my life took a bribe or a backhander or anything from anybody," he said.

"I've had to deal with this for eight-and-a-half years, a concerted bid by a few people who did everything they could to damage me, but I did my best before this tribunal to tell the full truth."

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