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I have never accepted a bribe, says Bertie

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Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern speaks as he leaves the Mahon Tribunal in Dublin. The long-awaited final report of Ireland's Mahon tribunal, the State's longest running corruption inquiry, is to be published today. Photo: PA

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern speaks as he leaves the Mahon Tribunal in Dublin. The long-awaited final report of Ireland's Mahon tribunal, the State's longest running corruption inquiry, is to be published today. Photo: PA

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern speaks as he leaves the Mahon Tribunal in Dublin. The long-awaited final report of Ireland's Mahon tribunal, the State's longest running corruption inquiry, is to be published today. Photo: PA

The following is an edited statement from Bertie Ahern, released last night.

"At the outset, I want to make clear that I have had the great honour and privilege to serve as an elected politician for over 30 years. I have dedicated my life to politics and serving the interest of the Irish people in politics. I have never accepted a bribe or a corrupt payment.

The Tribunal into Certain Planning Matters was established to inquire into allegations of planning corruption in Dublin. After spending over a decade of inquiries and countless millions of euros, the tribunal has not made -- nor could it make -- a finding to support the scurrilous and untrue allegation that I had been given a corrupt payment by Owen O'Callaghan (the Cork-based developer of Quarryvale).

On this key substantive point there is no evidence whatsoever to show I received anything from Mr O'Callaghan.

Nor could there be because, put simply, this never happened.

The only reason that the tribunal was allowed to investigate me was the entirely untrue and unworthy allegation that I had received money from Owen O'Callaghan. Without that allegation (which in truth was no more than rumour and gossip) it had no mandate to inquire into my finances and a trawl of my personal life.

From the report it is clear not a single witness at the Mahon Tribunal directly stated that I was given a bribe (other than Thomas Gilmartin). And he stated he was only repeating what he claimed he had been told by Owen O'Callaghan. Mr O'Callaghan was always clear that he never made that claim to Mr Gilmartin.

It is a matter of fact that I had nothing at all to do with the rezoning of the lands at Quarryvale. I was not a councillor on Dublin County Council and never exercised planning powers in respect of that site.

I am disappointed that the tribunal has said that I failed to give "a truthful account". That statement is unfair and inaccurate having regard to the evidence. It is one that I cannot and I will never accept and I will continue to examine ways in which to vindicate my name.

I was honest with the tribunal and I reject completely any suggestion that I did otherwise.

What I find most remarkable is that even where there is no evidence to the contrary, in many instances, my evidence has been summarily rejected and no good reason has been set out for why this is the case.

I am incredulous that the tribunal has made findings rejecting the evidence of a number of individuals -- including a number of friends who loaned me money -- whose evidence supported mine. In the case of almost every person who lent me money, their explanations were not challenged at the hearings in any substantial way. I believe this is unfair.

I believe that the notion that I got large sums of sterling and dollars is inaccurate and without an iota of foundation.

I have accepted before that my personal finances were chaotic and this arose from a busy and personally traumatic period in my life.

I have apologised for any concern that this has caused people but I have never done anything wrong or illegal.

I have never received a corrupt payment and I have never done anything to demean any office I have held.

I truly regret if this has caused any confusion. All of these issues arose in a period when my family and professional situations were rapidly changing and I made the best decisions I could.

I never made a political decision in return for a payment.

I hid nothing. I gave the tribunal access to all my financial records, and this tribunal has not made any finding of corruption against me."

Irish Independent