Thursday 17 October 2019

Ahern: Mahon findings are 'wrong, and will be wrong until the day I die'

Ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is interviewed by Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE Radio 1 yesterday. Photo: Maxwells
Ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is interviewed by Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE Radio 1 yesterday. Photo: Maxwells
Judge Alan Mahon: findings
John Downing

John Downing

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern emphatically insists that Judge Alan Mahon was wrong in his tribunal findings against him.

"That's his problem, he's wrong. I hope he feels happy. They were wrong then, they were wrong now, they'll be wrong till the day I die," Mr Ahern insisted yesterday.

In a personal reflection, he also said some people fail to see him as just an ordinary and simple person.

"I think people think I'm a far more complex person and far more deeper person than I actually am," he said.


Mr Ahern said he was, like the rest of his family, a "proud northside Dub", of parents originally from Cork.

"We love sport. We love our games, love a bit of fun. I'm not complex at all," he added.

The Mahon Tribunal proceedings forced Mr Ahern's resignation in May 2008 after almost 11 years as Taoiseach, the post he was elected to on three consecutive occasions. Yesterday he said it had turned its "machinery against me".

In an extensive RTÉ radio interview which followed his evidence to the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry last Thursday, he described the judges and lawyers as a formidable, well-researched group.

"It started affecting government and that's why I left," he told Miriam O'Callaghan.

The tribunal rejected Mr Ahern's evidence about lodgements to his bank accounts. He said Judge Mahon was entitled to his opinion.

"They're opinions. They've no legal effect. They're sterile," he said, adding the evidence he had given was "100pc true".

Mr Ahern said his unorthodox finances around the time being investigated in the early 1990s was due to his marriage break-up.

"Not a great time in my life. Some of the things I did were fairly bizarre, I don't deny that. But I didn't take money from anyone. I got loans from people who were very close to me."

Mr Ahern said he received "horrendous hate mail" after he left office, which included a parcel containing a rope with a noose. But he insisted he was only booed at Croke Park once, and that was when the country was going well in 2002.

He again insisted he had no responsibility for banking failures which contributed to Ireland's financial crash.

As former Taoiseach, he took responsibility for Cabinet decisions on taxation which took one third of revenue from the building sector.

"What the banks did and the fact that it wasn't properly regulated, that they didn't have capital backing for a lot of the projects, what they did was not the responsibility of the Cabinet," he asserted.


Mr Ahern also said the overwhelming weight of expert advice was that "we would not get the kind of hit that we did".

His government was effectively taking chances on building tax revenue.

"For decisions that we perhaps should have seen or should have got right, I accept responsibility for that. It's a collective responsibility. I was the head so I've never, ever shirked my responsibility for the areas that I was responsible for."

Mr Ahern said he did not receive coaching ahead of his appearance at the Banking Inquiry. He said he "had a few jars" with his brother Noel and some friends afterwards.

Irish Independent

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