Monday 18 February 2019

Ahern back to face tribunal

Lorna Reid

FORMER taoiseach Bertie Ahern returns to the Mahon Tribunal today for what is expected to be his final day in the witness box at Dublin Castle.

The ex-Fianna Fail leader will be questioned about the purchase of his Beresford Avenue home in 1997 from Manchester-based businessman Micheal Wall.

Last month, Mr Wall told the planning probe how he bought the house for IR£138,000 in May 1995 without having seen the inside of it.

Mr Ahern rented the Beresford Avenue house from Mr Wall at IR£450 a month until he bought it from him in 1997 for IR£180,000. Today is Mr Ahern's 12th day in the witness box.

Mr Ahern became embroiled with the planning inquiry following an allegation by developer Tom Gilmartin that developer Owen O'Callaghan had paid Mr Ahern IR£80,000 to ease the way for the rezoning of Quarryvale.

Mr O'Callaghan follows Mr Ahern into the witness box tomorrow. Both men have consistently denied giving and receiving this money. Mr O'Callaghan and his business partner, John Deane, are expected to take at least six weeks to complete their evidence.

The tribunal heard yesterday that lobbyist Frank Dunlop's fees of IR£160,000 were written off and disappeared from the books of a Quarryvale development company owned by Mr O'Callaghan.

And IR£15,500 paid to former Fianna Fail councillor Sean Gilbride was also treated the same way, the Mahon Tribunal heard yesterday. The IR£175,500 was moved into the books of a company developing a national stadium. But when this project bit the dust Mr Dunlop's fees and the payment to Mr Gilbride were treated as a loss.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News