If this is true, and we’ve no reason to think that David and the guys at Politics.ie are wrong, then it might explain Michael McDowell’s strange reversal on RTE this evening… Keep watching this space…
Update from Politics.ie:
20.35 – It now seems unlikely that Ahern will resign tonight, preferring to hold out for the Dail to debate/discuss the matter on Tuesday (as Tom Kitt has allowed), however with the PDs in discussions tonight, will they be the ones made walk if Ahern is holding out? Both Ahern and McDowell are said to be “on standby”.
Watch RTE Nine O’Clock News… PD’s coming back from all over the country in a crisis meeting to prepare response to any statement Ahern/FF may make…
Update to the Update: Keep your eye on Politics.ie for further reports.As a footnote, this was the last report from the Irish Times Breaking News Service, which had McDowell broadly in support (subs needed) of the Taoiseach:
Mr McDowell said he had not addressed the issue of the payments in Manchester before now because he had to first seek clarification on the issue of the IR£39,000 loans made to Mr Ahern in December 1993 and in 1994. The Tánaiste added that it appeared that the payment received in Manchester was a gift.
“The Taoiseach has emphasised that this was not an official function that he travelled privately that he didn’t have an official script and that he wasn’t speaking in his capacity as Minister.
“So I don’t think it can be seen as a fee for an official engagement or something like that and I also understand that he does not categorise it as loan so in those circumstances I suppose it would have to be seen as a gift or as a political donation and I understand that he doesn’t see it as a political donation and that leaves the category of gift,” Mr McDowell said.
He said the tax status of the money was not the primary issue. It’s status in terms of standards, that’s the crucial thing and whether it can be defended,” Mr McDowell said.
More than one person I’ve spoken to tonight has quoted Albert Reynolds’ observation that “its the little things that trip you up”. Ahern, the Teflon Taoiseach is going to be fighting for his political future between now and next Tuesday – if not sooner! Irony of Ironies, only days after his old buddy Tony Blair had handed in his departure ticket in Manchester.