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Ahern faces new challenge over keys to St Luke's

THE Fianna Fail battle for St Luke's appears to be kicking off again with the ownership of Bertie Ahern's Drumcondra offices understood to be coming under fresh scrutiny.

City Councillor Mary Fitzpatrick, the only elected Fianna Fail representative in Dublin Central, has asked the party's comhairle dail ceanntair in the constituency for a report on who owns St Luke's.

She has also sought a report on the constituency's finances, thought to be one of the most cash-rich in the country.

Cllr Fitzpatrick, whose supporters have a strained relationship with Mr Ahern's supporters, is chairwoman of the Fianna Fail renewal committee set up in Dublin Central.

Its membership includes long -term Fianna Fail party activists who are known supporters of the former Taoiseach.


Cllr Fitzpatrick told the Herald today: "The reason I am seeking these reports, to put it in context, is that I am trying to rebuild the party in the constituency. Unfortunately that information hasn't been available to me before. Hopefully I will get it soon."

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin had asked each constituency organisation in the State to set up a renewal committee after the party's poor showing in the last election.

Cllr Fitzpatrick has never held clinics in St Luke's and has said she did not want to comment on why this was so.

She said she might form a view on what she thought should happen with St Luke's after the committee had been given the information it had sought.

Mr Ahern continues to use St Luke's and was reported today as saying he moved his papers there from Leinster House after he retired from politics and that one of his two secretaries is working full time on preparing the documents for archiving.

Mr Ahern's website, bertieahernoffice.org, gives St Luke's as its address.

St Luke's is held in trust for the party organisation but none of the three surviving trustees are constituency officers.

The Mahon Tribunal inquired into the ownership of St Luke's as part of its inquries into Mr Ahern's personal finances. The building was bought for €56,000 and was renovated for use as a constitency centre and an apartment was built on the first floor where Mr Ahern lived at times.