THE image of Celia Larkin walking around O’Connell Street with wads of cash in a briefcase was recalled again and again during the Mahon Tribunal.
Today, Bertie Ahern’s former partner features heavily in the report – with much of her evidence being questioned.
In December 1994 two sums of money – one of IR£50,000 and one of IR£28,772.90 – were deposited in accounts in her name in a branch in Dublin’s Upper O’Connell Street.
The former taoiseach told the tribunal this was not his money but was given to him by Manchester businessman Michael Wall.
The money was supposed to refurbish a house at Beresford Avenue which Mr Wall intended to rent to Mr Ahern. In a private interview with the tribunal, Ms Larkin said she opened the ‘Michael Wall account’ with the IR£28,000 for the house.
The IR£50,000 was lodged in a separate account for decoration and furnishings which Ms Larkin called ‘the Bertie Account’. Ms Larkin said she thought the money provided by Mr Wall was, sterling cash, “rather than Irish cash”, and said that she recollected it as being sterling.
In sworn evidence Ms Larkin claimed not to know of the exact composition of the funds which sourced her lodgment of IR£28,772.90 on December 5, 1994.
She said said she recollected observing a few bundles of sterling notes on a table in Mr Ahern’s office on Saturday, December 1994, the date Mr Wall claimed he handed over a substantial sum to Mr Ahern.
Ms Larkin could not recall the amount of money, which was duly left for her in a briefcase in St Luke’s to be taken to the bank, but it was her assumption that it was Stg£30,000. The tribunal found that the £28,000 lodgment was not in sterling – it was in fact made with a lodgment of $45,000, thereby calling into question the whole transaction.