Bertie to make full disclosure?

Shift focus to the south from the west east, a fair amount of newsprint has been spent all week on the donations to Bertie story. After initially refusing to comment, he is now planning to release the detail this evening on the RTE Six O’Clock News. This has the feel of another sucker punch coming.

  • George

    Sucker punch or Rabbitte punch?

  • George

    two payments of 22,500 in 1993 and 16,500 in 1994.

    The first was from eight associates and the second one from four.

    Don’t know if it’s enough for Bertie to be sunk and I’d say it’s too far from the election to do any damage if he survives.

  • tom

    Is there anyone in Irish politics that isnt corrupt in some way. Regardless how Berties dresses this up this is dirty back handers in brown paper bags.

  • Pete Baker

    From the RTÉ report

    The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has given details of payments totalling £39,000 which were made to him in the early 1990s when he was Minister for Finance.

    In his first detailed interview since the payments controversy began six days ago, Mr Ahern told RTÉ News that a group of friends made two separate payments to him in December 1993 and in 1994.

    The Taoiseach said he regarded the money as a loan to cover the costs of his legal separation, but he conceded that no repayments have yet been made and no interest has been paid.

    A loan, from 1993/4, with no repayments and no interest?… sure it was, Bertie..

  • Here we go again! Most of us probably thought the brown envelopes had been pulped…

  • Yokel

    I have to say that backhanders & a bit of graft does seem to be a feature of Irish politics for some reason. I can forever remember Dustin the Turkey talking about getting in politics and taking backhanders and that boy had his finger on the pulse…

  • Yokel

    claw..beak..wing on the pulse..

  • austin

    Ws this the Bertie Bowl we used to hear about?
    Didn’t know it was Begging Bowl…

  • Brian Boru

    I support the govt but Bertie must go. But I will defend him to this extent: he states that he tried to repay the loans but the benefactors refused to agree. If he stays on this will be dragged up perennially and will cost FF the election. Bertie needs to do the honorably thing and let someone without a history take over. Preferably no-one from the Haughey govts. I recommend Brian Lenihan or Mary Hanafin, but not Brian Cowen. Bertie needs to put the party before himself.

  • Pete Baker

    Brian

    “But I will defend him to this extent: he states that he tried to repay the loans but the benefactors refused to agree.”

    And in what year did he claim he offered to return the money?

    More likely Bertie, at some point, would have realised that the money would be politically disastrous if/when revealed.

    And, in those circumstances, either he offered to repay it expecting that offer to be refused, hoping that would cover him. Or he never actually offered, and never expected it to be revealed.. at least until he was out of office.

  • Brian Boru

    Pete Baker he said he had used up all his savings at that stage. He had to pay maintenance to his daughters of £20,000, and that excludes his wife. You know a separation can be financially a very costly affair. However I accept that perception is crucial here and that he must do the honorable thing and go.

  • Green Ink

    Ivor Callely’s head rolled over £1500 (to his recollection). Bertie’s in multiples of that. All it’s going to take is the appearance of preferential treatment to one of his “debt of honour(?)” buddies (clientelism being the modus operandi of Irish society, it’ll be there) and Bertie’s gone.

  • Pete Baker

    That wasn’t the question I asked Brian.. perhaps he didn’t specify it, but I was asking if he had indicated which year he claimed he had attempted to repay the interest-free loans he received when he was Minister for Finance?

  • jerryp

    One of his “friends”, Burke, was made chairman of the Dublin Port board after the “loans”.

  • Brian Boru

    “That wasn’t the question I asked Brian.. perhaps he didn’t specify it, but I was asking if he had indicated which year he claimed he had attempted to repay the interest-free loans he received when he was Minister for Finance?”

    Got the impression he tried to do it in 1994 but am not sure if he said that or not.

  • austin

    Sucker punch or Rabbitte punch?

    George,

    If memory serves me right, Rabbitte has a bit of a history in this type of thing as well….

  • Rory

    Even if loans were made “interest-free” surely the question would still arise of the need to declare an income tax liability on a benefit-in-kind received based on the value of notional interest on the loans. Or are such benefits not taxable in the Republic of Ireland?

  • Greenflag

    39,000 ?

    Is that all ? Hardly enough to put a deposit on a house for jayzuz sake . Everybody knows that Bertie never earned a whole lot other than his political wages . I’d say he’ll get the sympathy vote . He’s behaved like a gent towards his ex and children . No CJ millions then .

    Still it’s not the amount but the principle as the whore said to the bishop . Michael Martin and Brian Cowen may yet see an opportunity . Interesting days . If he survives this they’ll have to rename him Houdini .

  • Yokel

    Lenihan? The son goes one step further than his father. Nice little bit of dynasty about that.

    But will Bertie really go, would there really be enough pressure on him iun the party and FF electorate?

    Are there stories of anyone manouevering into position to stick the knife in anmd take over?

  • George

    My guess is that it’s not enough for him to go. Bertie will survive.

    I did a very unrepresentative straw poll and the story of the children and breakup seemed to have struck a chord and might swing it for him.

    As for Lenihan, give me a break. Might be too soon for Hanafin, who is incredibly capable, and Cowen has a touch of the Gordon Brown’s about him.

    Also, don’t forget Bertie is still FF’s biggest electoral asset so there will be no heaves just yet.

  • Crataegus

    Why would anyone give a politician an interest free loan? Why would anyone give a politician donations totalling £39,000? Why would a millionaire pay New Labour party?

    In my world these things don’t happen without reason. We need to consider more carefully donations to political parties.

    Now I don’t recall Charley spending long inside and indeed can even recall a state funeral. To me the whole event illustrated a National ability to set variable standards of conduct for different people at different times. Attitudes that owe less ethical standards and more to hypocritical convenience and humbug

    An acquaintance of mine, who frequented one of the tribunals, once said it was much better to invest in the South as it was easy to know who to pay!!!! In part I think there is a ‘stroke’ culture that goes back to previous centuries where it was OK to pull a fast one for it was against the English but now it is against the Irish and that dubious justification no longer exists.

    Ireland needs to address these issues properly because it really isn’t savoury.

  • Yokel

    George I’d be inclined to agree with you, purely on instinct about the circumstannces of the case.

    I’m no expert on how it operates down there.

  • Green Ink

    Greenflag, £39,000 (pounds) would have bought a house outright in the early nineties. Crataegus’ post is “on the money” so to speak. What’s bigger than the damage this might do to Bertie, Fianna Fail or the current government, is the damage it’s going to do to Irish democracy. The perception that all politicians are on the take locks the doors and pulls the curtains of much of the electorate. Bertie might survive this, but if the Taoiseach is on the take in the minds of the voters, he can chuck his one brush and just back the tar lorry into Leinster House.

  • tiny

    maybe I am just niave, but it sounds like friends helping him out, can’t see it doing him much damage

  • My guess is that it’s not enough for him to go. Bertie will survive.

    I did a very unrepresentative straw poll and the story of the children and breakup seemed to have struck a chord and might swing it for him.

    You could be right. I don’t like that story at all, but I never seem to be with the ‘mood’ of the electorate.

    £39,000 was enough to buy a house in Celbridge, Co. Kildare at that time. Now the same house goes for closer to €390,000 (£300K).

  • Harry

    Greenflag: 39,000? Is that all ? Hardly enough to put a deposit on a house for jayzuz sake.

    In 1993/94 that amount of money was almost enough to buy a house outright. Nowadays it’s worth anything from 100,000 euros up. It’s not an insignificant amount of money.

    Crataegus: In part I think there is a ‘stroke’ culture that goes back to previous centuries where it was OK to pull a fast one for it was against the English

    It’s also an attitude which believes that those with the power can shit on those without the power and be treated differently, an attitude that was ingrained in the Irish for centuries and which has survived since independence in the way the church was allowed to bugger the children, ban books and films, drive out artists and liberals and infantilise the population. It also survived in the form of squashing republican consciousness in the south, in section 31 and in the current way in which the republic is completely in hoc to vested interests and cartels (vintners, Irish Medical Organisation, pharmacists, builders, media organisations, etc. etc.).

    As I have said before, only a people with low expectations and a history of abuse and struggle would support these third rate charlatans.

  • Green Ink

    Don’t forget Big Oil sniffing gas Harry!

  • George

    Yokel,
    rightly or wrongly, I think most people believe Bertie, when it comes down to it, is an honest politician who hasn’t enriched himself, hence his mates bailing him out with what was small change for them. One of them, Charlie Chawke, was robbed of one night’s takings (45k) at the Goat, famous Dublin pub.

    This isn’t the tip of the iceberg with Ahern, this is the iceberg.

    They see his suburban cardboard box in All Hallows, which is what your average teacher has, and compare it to the houses of other former leaders.

    They believe he was cash-strapped.

    Crataegus,
    I think your last post is a bit harsh. Corruption today is less of a problem than most countries, 17th least corrupt country out of 146 I believe.

    It’s just Ireland’s smaller so we can’t afford to hang out our most capable to dry over such “trifles”. We need them.

    Ahern has shown himself to be Ireland’s most capable politician so he will be dispensed with only if necessary.

    As for strokes, if anything the pendulum has swung too far the other way. Stroke is now nearly considered a dirty word these days.

    Harry,
    the only solution? Revolution!

  • George

    Might I also add that nobody wanted to live in Celbridge in 1993.

  • Harry

    George you are profoundly naive. The Tribunals are a distraction thrown to the people like a bone, made to look at a time when there was millions in the country while ignoring what’s going on now, when there’s billions in the country. And in Ireland there’s two sorts of corruption – legal and illegal. Legal corruption is the tax breaks on property development still operative when any justification for them has been surpassed years ago. There’s the licensing system for bars. There’s road tolling such as at the Westlink Bridge etc.
    And then there’s illegal corruption – like people buying up landbanks in advance of planning permission being granted for new roads and motorways into certain areas, i.e., the Tara motorway. There’s the manipulation of the gardai by those with the power to influence them. There’s the activities of the Knights of Columbanus (very nice deal between the government and the church over payment of liability in child abuse, for example), the activities of the Freemasons (who have their headquarters beside the Dail) and their friends in MI5, there’s the cosy relationship between Murdoch, O’Reilly and all the other rich friends who won’t rock the boat to any extent. There’s the national licensing for Radio and mobile phones. There’s the price of land (up to 500,000 euro an acre) in a country which is so little urbanised. The list goes on and on.

    You’re naive George. These people are fucking up our possibilities and keeping us 10-15 years behind where we could be economically through their corruption. This is as true today as it ever was.

  • George

    Harry,
    What country in the world do you want us to be like? There must be one that comes close for you.
    Or is the only solution revolution, a promise of blue skies ahead?

  • Greenflag

    Green ink,

    I think Bertie can survive this episode . I know he went through a traumatic time in the early nineties and I’m also aware that he’s the kind of individual who attracts friends who would help him out in a personal financial difficulty . 8 people donating an average of about 3,000 each and four donating some 4,000 each was not a lot even back then .

    It’s not a well known fact but up to CJ’s time it was unheard of for Irish Prime Ministers to leave Government several times wealthier than when they entered office . Sean Lemass was a notorious miser and never had a penny to spend . I believe waiters at the Shelbourne and Gresham Hotels resented serving his table as he was known not to tip more than sixpence . When De Valera retired as President they had to rush through a bill in the Dail to ensure that he did not end his days in penury .

    When you look at the millions which former British Prime Ministers have carved out for themselves while in office I think poor Bertie from the Northside is a saint .

    It would be sad to see him end his career because of this .

    It may come as a surprise to those on the outside but Bertie has always had loyal friends from way back . This was how he built his electoral machine .

    Yes Crataegus is right that ‘donations’ to political parties should be transparent and also to individual politicians . That said although I’m no legal eagle at the time that these donations were made, they were not illegal .

    To put things in perspective just look at what political lobbies spend in the USA and UK to influence politicians in power ?

    Bertie’s peccadillo almost 14 years ago is small potatoes .

    We Irish are always prepared to forgive a sinner once he confesses . Strangely when ‘Honest John Bruton ‘ decided to tax childrens shoes in his hairshirt budget he was ousted from office by an incensed electorate . I can’t see the Irish voters becoming ‘incensed ‘ over this bar a few ultra Blue Shirts in FG and a few Reds In Irish Labour . I somehow doubt much will be heard from SF . No prizes for guessing why !

  • piebald

    if i was a betting man which i’m not then Ahern will have to resign over this.

    the next week is going to be a very long time in politics

    piebald

  • Brian Boru

    The next polls should be interesting.

  • jerryp

    The scraping sound in the background is that of nervous FF backbanchers readying their knives to do Bertie in. They are in enough trouble as it is without this further ammunition being fired against them ! It’s only a matter of when Bertie goes and the backbenchers would prefer to set the pace rather than allow the PD’s do so.

  • Hurler on the Ditch

    Most interesting will be the PD reaction to this. I predict that Rabitte and co will really have a go at McDowell on this in the Dail today and test the loyalty of the new tanaiste. Bertie should be able to survive this but whether the government does or not is up to McDowell. Wonder how he’d react to a story like this if he was in opposition…

  • frank

    Rabitte is no stranger to 2000 quid ‘donations’.

  • GrassyNoel

    Greenflag – I think you’ve got the wrong idea about De Valera! Have you ever heard of the Irish Press scandal? He enriched his family and friends to the tune of millions. And they’re still milking it to this day. All through corruption. Lest anyone has any remaining doubts about the Fianna Fail party, they have always been crooked. From day one.

  • Green Ink

    Green Flag,
    It’s irrelevant what kind of times Bertie was going through in the early nineties, and shame on him for using his personal life (which up until last night was his main reason for not disclosing details of the monies) to deflect attention away from the money issue: he has effectively made soap out of his tax liability. You’re right, according to the letter of the law he hasn’t committed any crime, but to seek the lowest permissable legal standard when you’re the person who holds the highest office is morally wrong.
    Lobbying in British or American politics does not set any kind of bar for Ireland, nor does it excuse Bertie. Cash for peerages has played no small part in Blair’s departure. And again the scale of the gifts/loans/donations isn’t relevant: Bertie had Callely’s head for £1500. The situation here boils down to two questions:

    Is Bertie liable for tax on these “debts of honour”?
    By accepting the money for whatever reasons, has the integrity of the office of Taoiseach the appearance of being compromised?

    If yes to either his position becomes untenable.

    My prediction for today: the opposition will drop the ball, Bertie will play a blinder involving tears and references to his girls, will have to be lead from the Dail by a supportive McDowell, lighters will go up on both sides of the house and we can read a hastily penned biography by Georgina called “He’s Your Daddy Too: A Week of Hell for a Daycint Man”. Then bolstered by public stupidy, FF and PDs win by landslide, employ everyone in cementing over the whole country and pronounce it the era of the Celtic Kangaroo.

  • smcgiff

    I’ve said it before, I’ll now repeat it. No way would CJ promote someone to within the cabinet, especially the finance minister, if he didn’t have something on him. Although, in this instance the transaction is after the promotion to Finance Minister, the acceptance of this very generous “gift” seems to bear my suspicions out.

    *Entering sarcasm mode*

    If only we all had friends like Bertie to give us the equivalent of a €100k in today’s money. As friends they’d surely never expect anything in return, and if they did benefit from public life in future it of course has no connection to the hugely generous gifts they gave to the future PM.

    Naive? Nah! A pint you say, mine’s an Evian.

  • Greenflag

    Green Ink,

    ‘My prediction for today: the opposition will drop the ball,

    That’s right . I watched Bertie’s ‘explanation’ on the Six One news and I must be naive 🙂 I believed him .

    Celtic Kangarro sounds just right . Better to have a spring in your step than no spring in a coalition slump !

    ‘You’re right, according to the letter of the law he hasn’t committed any crime’

    Exactly .

    ‘but to seek the lowest permissable legal standard when you’re the person who holds the highest office is morally wrong. ‘

    When I hear the word ‘morality’ in politics used by the holier than thou brigade I cringe. The next step is a clerical collar for the candidates and compulsory mass attendance .

    Perhaps I’m too cynical but having been around the world a bit and having met people who have made ‘fortunes’ in business I’m aware that not all of said fortunes were achieved in a 100% ‘moral’ manner .

    I’m glad Bertie has ‘explained’ his version of these transactions . I believe he’s still an electoral asset to FF/PD and at this stage I see Bertie leading the party to another election victory . A change now would not be in either the party or the country’s interest IMO.

    Oh Yes -Bertie’s a daycint man -Sure ye only have to listen to him .

  • Greenflag

    Grassy Noel,

    ‘Lest anyone has any remaining doubts about the Fianna Fail party, they have always been crooked.’

    Wonder where they learnt it from then ? Could’nt possibly have been the morally and ethically non corrupt British colonial administrations that ruled Ireland for the previous 130 years prior to FF’s arrival could it ?

  • GrassyNoel

    Good Point…

    BTW – ‘Celtic Kangaroo’? Love it!!!

  • Turbopaul

    “Berties Backhanders”, DUP mayor of Coleraine, Dessie Stewart, has pleaded guilty on 6 charges of electoral fraud, and it is said that Sinn Fein is not fit for govt.

    The bar is set so low these days that future govt ministers may consist of David Ervine, Jackie McDonald, Bobby Story, Jock Davidson, and even Thomas Slab Murphy as Irish President.

    Somehow a case of Double standards!

    Honest, moral, hardworking, honourable people need not apply for political office.

  • Green Ink

    I’m certainly not holier than thou or anyone else nor am I subscribing to that brigade’s newsletter. I do however expect high standards from those in public office. And in that light Pete’s post on self-confessed jobs for the boys is far from daycint.

  • Greenflag

    Green Ink ,

    ‘I do however expect high standards from those in public office.’

    Eh ? So do I especially in the results of their economic policies .And on that note Bertie has delivered very high standards indeed . The economy has almost trebled in size since he attained office . GDP per person is the highest /seconf highest in the EU ? and in terms of net assets /worth the Irish are second only to the Japanese .

    Overall our Northside Bertie has done a better job than probably any of his predecessors !

    The people know it and they’ll not be blindsided by the unctious hypocrites in the slump coalition .

    Charlie Chawke gave the RTE reporter something to chew on in today’s news . Now and again it’s good to see our ‘moralistic’ media being put down by a local Dub even if he’s a publican .

    Better to have a publican as a friend than a pharissee no doubt !

  • Harry

    ‘Higher net assets’ my arse; strip out property assets and what wealth have the Irish got? Lets see what wealth they have 18 months from now.

    The average wage in 2003 was 580 euros a week for men, a lot less for women – not the much vaunted 39,000 per annum that Harney was blathering about for the last few years. A mortgage is now between 10 and 15 times the average annual wage for a man in the Dublin area. Apparently because people have stumped up a deposit and are paying through the nose for a mortgage in a rising market (10-15% rise per annum still) those who think making a killing in property equals wealth are singing the praises of the pocket-lining Fianna Fail s.cum.

    There’s only one thing to do to gombeens; kick them in the nuts and throw them aside. As well to be nice to a bully as to be reasonable to the slobbering greedy gombeens of FF. They’ve been full of self-congratulation for the last 70 years, it’s not a new phenomenon for them.

    Those who wish to make their living from creativity not exploitation are finding that Ireland is not a country that appreciates them. That goes for science and business as well as the arts. The sooner the Irish go through this phase of greed and arrive at the other side the sooner the real wealth of this country – the initiative of its people – will be released. Until then it would seem we all have to submit to conformity and vested interests – just the same as we’ve had to do for three-quarters of a century.

  • Greenflag

    Harry ,

    Start your own Party -I’m sure you’ll get lots of votes . You may even hold on to your deposit .

    Now that the property bubble seems to have burst in the USA it will be interesting to see when the burst impacts on Ireland . I’d say a year from now by which time Bertie and Mick will be back in the Dail with a good enough majority .

    So ye haven’t much time Harry 🙂 About that Party I mean . Ye’ll need to use all the creativity you can muster in comeing up with a Party name .

    How about the Party of Harry ?

    I know some people who speak Polish and Chinese if you are interested in appealing to the minority ethnic vote ?