Monday 18 December 2017

Ahern’s expenses too high and they should be cut: Michael Martin

Brian Hutton

THE expenses claimed by Bertie Ahern were too high and should be cut, according to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

The former Taoiseach had claimed €265,000 for “secretarial services” and €7,500 on mobile phone bills since he stepped down from office in May 2008.

Under the current expenses regime, a former Taoiseach may employ two secretarial assistants for up to five years after leaving office and one after that.

In 2009, Mr Ahern claimed almost €115,000 and last year almost €107,000.

From January to July of this year, he claimed another €43,000.

Asked by Newstalk’s Ivan Yates what he thought of Mr Ahern’s expenses, Mr Martin said he thought it was too high.

“I think it should be reduced,” he said.

“Previous taoisigh also received similar types of support in the aftermath of being Taoiseach, but in the present set of circumstances, that is excessive.”

The party leader also criticised Mr Ahern for comments he made about the party’s cumainn on a forthcomiong TV3 documentary on the history of Fianna Fail.

“I’m really appalled at that,” Mr Martin said, having heard the comments.

“Members of cumainn and political parties are the lifeblood of politics,” he said.

Mr Ahern described some members of cumainn - local party branches - as "useless good-for-nothings".

In the documentary he said rank and file were having "tea parties" during the 1970s and 1980s about the state of the world.

"But as far as building up the Fianna Fail vote in these areas, they were useless," he said.

Staunchly defending his own stewardship of the party leading up to its electoral meltdown, Mr Ahern singled out a cumann in Dublin's north inner city during the 1970s, who he said were not northsiders and were frightened of crossing the Liffey.

"They were afraid to come into Sean McDermott Street, to drive through it, never mind canvass it," he said.

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