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Fianna Fail leader plans to expel Ahern for 'betrayal of trust'


FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin last night revealed plans to expel former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern from the party for "betraying the trust" placed in him by the country.

And after the damning findings of the Mahon Tribunal, he is also going to expel former Fianna Fail minister and European Commissioner Padraig Flynn, who was found to have "wrongly and corruptly" accepted an IR£50,000 political donation.

He will require the backing of two-thirds of the members of Fianna Fail's national executive to expel Mr Ahern, Mr Flynn and others from the party.

But in an embarrassing blow for Mr Martin, last night it emerged he didn't even have unanimous support on the Fianna Fail officer board for the expulsion of Mr Ahern.

Fianna Fail's newly-elected vice-presidents Mary White and Kathryn Byrne both abstained on the vote.

Senator White defended Mr Ahern, referring to his record on Northern Ireland, Fianna Fail justice spokesman Dara Calleary said on RTE's 'Prime Time'.

Earlier Mr Martin said it was "a matter of profound personal and professional regret" that Mr Ahern had fallen short of the standard of personal behaviour which is expected.

"In the manner in which he received this money while holding high office and in the giving of rejected evidence to a sworn tribunal, Bertie Ahern betrayed the trust placed in him by this country and this party," he said.

There are 87 members on the 'Ard Comhairle', so 58 would need to vote for Mr Ahern's expulsion at the specially convened meeting on Friday next week.

The make up of the national executive has changed since Mr Ahern resigned as Taoiseach in May 2008 -- with new members being elected at the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis in the RDS earlier this month.

It represents a huge turnaround for Mr Ahern, who was once widely acclaimed for leading his party to three successive general election victories and helping negotiate the Good Friday Agreement.

In a further blow, Mr Martin announced that he was setting up a "root-and-branch review" of the organisation in the Dublin Central constituency once dominated by Mr Ahern.

Mr Martin and 10 other "officer" members of the national executive agreed on their approach to the tribunal report after meeting in Leinster House last night. He said that three councillors criticised in the report would also be subject to expulsion proceedings from the party.

Irish Independent