Calls for 'embarrassing' Taoiseach's resignation
THE Opposition last night branded the Taoiseach's financial affairs as a "national embarrassment" which should prompt his immediate resignation.
Tanaiste Brian Cowen and senior Government ministers were urged to call time on Bertie Ahern's tenure as Taoiseach following a dramatic day at the Mahon Tribunal.
Fine Gael claimed the Taoiseach was now facing questions about lodgements worth €495,000 in today's terms. The party claimed the latest revelation involving Celia Larkin and a £30,000 loan was another "damaging blow to the Taoiseach's credibility".
Reiterating his call for the Taoiseach's resignation, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore claimed Fianna Fail should apply pressure on Mr Ahern to resign now or immediately after he delivers his address to the US Congress in May.
"The Taoiseach's situation is now a national embarrassment and needs to be ended to permit the country to move on and allow the government and the Dail to concentrate on social and economic problems of the country," Mr Gilmore said.
The Labour leader claimed the Mr Ahern's determination to "cling to power" was doing the country a disservice. With every appearance before the Mahon Tribunal, Mr Ahern is being sucked further into the morass of his "bizarre, inexplicable and unbelievable" financial and funding arrangements, he said.
"Another two days in the witness box and the public hears about yet more previously undisclosed accounts, yet more untraceable donations and yet more memory lapses by the man who once boasted that his memory was his greatest political asset," said Mr Gilmore.
"And now also, having protested his innocence, we finally have an admission that he did not pay tax due on monies received by him and that he is not tax compliant."
Fine Gael's Senator Eugene Regan claimed that before Mr Ahern's evidence this week revealing a "further £90,000" worth of monies, the Mr Ahern was being questioned on €300,000. He estimated the lodgements now being examined by the tribunal were worth €500,000 in today's terms.
Mr Regan said that after eight days giving sworn evidence, Mr Ahern is clinging to "threadbare stories, bereft of credibility and increasingly becoming a source of ridicule, derision and scorn".
"Instead of leading a Government which is tackling a deteriorating economy, health service cutbacks and inadequate public services, Mr Ahern spends his days spinning yarns to the tribunal about huge amounts of money that were lodged to his or associates' accounts over a relatively brief period in the mid-1990s.
"The tribunal was set up to find the truth about corrupt payments. It must be let get to the truth. It's long past time that Mr Ahern ended his charade of co-operation and told the full unvarnished truth."