Weekend might not bring relief for Ahern

While Bertie’s gifts/personal loans might not be the subject of discussions in the D�il again until Tuesday, elsewhere they remain a topic of interest. Not least in the Irish Times, who today suggest that the revelation of the Manchester gift of �8,000, which Ahern claims was for his appearance in a personal capacity, came about because he believed the Irish Times had that information already. Also related, the Irish Times lawyers have told the Mahon Tribunal that they will not be revealing the source of the leak. Adds RT� reportFrom the Irish Examiner Breaking News

The newspaper’s editor and public affairs correspondent have been summoned to appear before the inquiry today to answer questions about the source of the leak.

However, their lawyers have told the tribunal that, while they respect its work, they will be fulfilling their right to freedom of expressing and will not be revealing sources.

The hearing also heard that editor Geraldine Kennedy had destroyed the relevant documentation.

That would prevent the documents, themselves, being used to identify the source of the leak, which the Irish Times believes forced Ahern to reveal the Manchester payment

The Taoiseach, it is understood, revealed the existence of the Manchester money because he believed The Irish Times had information about it but was unable to publish the details.

And a Fianna Fail backbencher has criticised Bertie Ahern for the earlier disclosed payment

Carlow-Kilkenny TD MJ Nolan said today that Mr Ahern had compromised his position by not making a real effort to repay the money.

“It doesn’t reflect well on a minister of Government to seem to be compromised by anybody,” he said.

The issue of Bertie Ahern’s appearance at the Manchester meeting is also highlighted by Stephen Collins in the Irish Times

Then came news of Mr Ahern’s Cavan interview and his attempts to explain how he could speak to a group of businessmen in Manchester about the Irish economy when he was minister for finance and yet somehow not be there in an official capacity.

“I did the dinner a number of times . . . often go along, you know, to speak about what’s going on in Ireland, what’s happening . . . was it official? No, it was not an official dinner. I had no official script, my costs in Manchester I paid myself as I always do,” he said.

“So, no official script, not an official function, not in my capacity as minister, paid my own way, spoke at the function, and on one occasion the assembled group of about 25, plus the group who were with me from Ireland, gave me the sum of money that I mentioned. That’s all that happened.”

Following his claims that the �50,000 he got from business friends in Dublin was a loan and not a gift, even though he had not paid any of it back in 13 years, the claim that the money he got in Manchester was actually a gift, but was not given to him in his capacity as minister, further eroded the Taoiseach’s credibility.

Also of interest is the apparent disagreement on whether formal guidelines existed at the time for personal gifts to Ministers – FF Minister Brian Cowen say not, but RT�’s Prime Time last night thought differently.

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  • Greenflag

    So Irish Times journalists Colm Keena and Geraldine Kennedy will not reveal the source of the ‘leaks’ ? The former is prepared to face a fine of 300,000 and 2 years in jail ?

    Bertie won’t be the only one having a less than enjoyable weekend ?

    The rats are running for cover !

  • seabhac siulach

    “The rats are running for cover !”

    It’s called a free press…how could anything ‘secret’ be reported (in the public interest) if the identity of the source was always to be compromised…the paper must protect their sources…

    Not sure a PD supporter such as yourself should be calling Madam Kennedy a rat, seeing as how she is a former PD herself (and from her editorial line more than biased towards the Govt. parties…)

  • Brian Boru

    Seabhac siulach, I hold a different view about her position on the govt. Remember the newspaper’s opposition to the Citizenship Referendum.

  • Brian Boru

    Yes we have a free press but the Constitution makes this subject to the common good. We cannot have a situation where partisan Tribunal staff are selectively leaking info only about politicians from one party to damage the govt, and in order to help other parties, whose wrongdoings are arguably not being released. I am also deeply concerned that it was admitted at the Tribunal that Geraldine Kennedy allowed the destruction of documents related to this.

  • Yokel

    The money is moving towards him going and the intervention of an FF TD seems to be making it worse. If he does go, can the coalition stay in place until a new FF leader is elcted without going to the country?

  • George

    Bertie has drifted from 4/5 to evens on being Taoiseach on January 1. Cowen also evens.

    Yokel,
    if he does go the coalition could survive. We could also have minority FF for another eight months or a general election.

    Hell we might even have the PDs walking and Bertie staying put and calling an election.

    It all depends on whether the public turns on Bertie I think.

  • Lorenzo

    Shades of the Beef Tribunal, where the only person threatened with jail was a journalist who broke the story.

    One of the main reasons we have all these interminable (and ridiculously expensive) Tribunals was that journalists couldn’t or wouldn’t do their job in the 80’s and 90’s. Have we learnt nothing?

    The Irish Times was absolutely right to publish the leaked information and was right to destroy the document if it could have identified the source.

    Bertie is on his second strike, one more even piffling little thing and he’s out. He may be out anyway.

  • Keith M

    Yokel “If he does go, can the coalition stay in place until a new FF leader is elcted without going to the country?”

    If he does go, I can see the government surviving. McDowell said as much this morning. Interestingly, I believe that as Tanaiste McDowell would take over the Taoiseach’s role until FF find a new leader (there would almost certainly be an election within FF), including leading the Irish delegation to Sctland on the talks on Northern Ireland.

  • GrassyNoel

    Bertie’s pretty much finished now anyway even if he survives this, but it won’t really matter in the end…even if he had to resign tomorrow morning the attitude in Ireland is so perverse that he’ll probably go on to top the poll for the next 10 years and run the party/govt from the sidelines. Sure look at Lowry in North Tipp, he tops the poll every time now, his share of the vote is higher than before his scandal broke. Even though Ahern’s been exposed as at the very least a hypocrite, he’ll probably gain in popularity. Haughey went through something similar, maybe he didn’t realise it at the time but losing his cabinet post and taking the fall for the arms trial cemented his position in Irish politics forever and won him the undying loyalty of every armchair republican in the south for the rest of his career. He would have faded into obscure ignominy a lot sooner only for that (very sizeable) portion of hapless gombeens/the Irish electorate. Yeha that’s right lads. That’s what your heroes in 1916 died for, so that all these fatcats could milk the system and get rich making muppets out of the rest of us. Fair play to ye lads.

    The sad truth is that Irish society is corrupt from head to toe, it actually has very little to do with politics or politicians..and by the way there is legal corruption and illegal corruption, but that’s only a technical distinction.

    The PERFECTLY LEGAL Aer Lingus flotation this week? Corrupt.

    The PERFECTLY LEGAL Eircom flotation a few years ago? Corrupt.

    The PERFECTLY LEGAL current ongoing stymying of proper broadband availability/competition? Corrupt.

    The PERFECTLY LEGAL Irish property market, its PERFECTLY LEGAL strange defiance of all logic, reason and its impact on future generations? Corrupt.

    Our ‘heroes’ U2 and their PERFECTLY LEGAL tax arrangements? Corrupt.

    The PERFECTLY LEGAL tax-free billions earned by the horseracing/bloodstock industry in this country? Corrupt.

    Meanwhile old people are tossed into nursing homes where they see out the reat of their lives getting physically abused, or left to rot in their own faeces on dirty trolleys in overcrowded hospital corridors.

    And nobody gives a shit. Why? because as long as the value of their houses keeps rising by 10-15% per year, every year, as if somehow by magic, everything’s all right at the end of the day.

    Everything about this country is geared to suit the rich and powerful.

    Oh But Bertie’s a socialist…yeah right.

  • Brian Boru

    “If he does go, I can see the government surviving. McDowell said as much this morning. Interestingly, I believe that as Tanaiste McDowell would take over the Taoiseach’s role until FF find a new leader (there would almost certainly be an election within FF), including leading the Irish delegation to Sctland on the talks on Northern Ireland.”

    Not sure. As FF deputy-leader Cowen would probably take over as Acting-Taoiseach until a new FF leader was chosen. The Tanaiste only stands in for the Taoiseach when out of the country, incapacitated, or unavailable I understand.

  • George

    Keithm,
    “I believe that as Tanaiste McDowell would take over the Taoiseach’s role until FF find a new leader (there would almost certainly be an election within FF), including leading the Irish delegation to Sctland on the talks on Northern Ireland.”

    That is not the way it works.

    Article 28.11 of the Constitution.

    1° If the Taoiseach at any time resigns from office the other members of the Government shall be deemed also to have resigned from office, but the Taoiseach and the other members of the Government shall continue to carry on their duties until their successors shall have been appointed.

    If Bertie goes, they all go.

  • Yokel

    Maybe some ex-paramiltaries who are being paid good money to act as community workers could shoot Bertie in the legs in order to achieve the condition of ‘incapaciated’.

  • Yokel

    Right that kind of answers my question then George. If he goes the whole shebang goes and its off to the country. Fair in one way, hassle in another..

  • dodrade

    What are the odds now on Blair outlasting Bertie?

  • inuit_goddess

    What are the implications for the talks, and the whole pre Nov 24 timetable, if the South is immersed in what’s sure to be the most competitive election in a long while?

    Do Ministers stay in office down there during an election campaign – i.e. could/should the Irish Gov still be playing any kind of role at the talks if there’s an ongoing election campaign?

  • Keith M

    No we’ve had Taosigh resign without an election. Haughey did it for example (the Reynolds resignatio was unique). I believe what happens is that Ahern stands down as leader of FF but make hang on as (notional) Taoiseach until FF elect a new leader. That new leader then has to face a new vote of the Dail to be Taoiseach and can then make whatever cabinet changes he sees fit.

  • Yokel

    15. None whatsoever…different lading faces no change in approach.

  • George

    Yokel,
    I never said there had to be an election, I said the whole government goes if the Taoiseach goes and the Tanaiste goes too.

    But Keith is right in his later post. The President can give the Dáil the opportunity to vote in a new Taoiseach without going to the electorate and this Taoiseach would form a new government. Naturally, they would have to go to electorate when the term is up next May.

  • Yokel

    Ah alright then so

  • Greenflag

    seabhac siulach,

    ‘It’s called a free press’

    No it isn’t . It’s called breaking the law .

    Bertie did not break any laws . It looks as if Keena has and Kennedy may have . And for what good purpose ? To protect the public interest?

    Complete bollocks . More likely to protect the party political affiliation of the leak . Look no further than somebody from Bunny’s party and their ‘left ‘ comrades . Eejits the lot of them ! There’ll be a leadership contest in the Labour Party and in FG before there’s one in FF !

    ‘Earlier, tribunal chairman Judge Alan Mahon warned Mr Keena that failure to answer questions in evidence is an offence punishable with a fine of up to €300,000 and two years in jail.

    Both Mr Keena and Ms Kennedy were summoned to give evidence to the tribunal, which is investigating the leak of confidential information.

    At the beginning of the hearing, Mr Mahon said that he was particularly concerned by Ms Kennedy’s admission that she had destroyed a document after taking legal advice.

    The chairman also said The Irish Times had been aware of a Supreme Court injunction prohibiting the publishing of confidential tribunal information.

  • GrassyNoel

    Greenflag, I think you’re rather missing the point. If Bertie Ahern somehow manages to weasel his way out of this and walk away because of tax and legal loopholes and extenuating blah blah blah, what is the f*cking point of all these tribunals? They wouldn’t dare (to jail someone for not revealing their source)is my bet – in fact I’d say they’re sweating almost as much as Bertie right now, because they’re going to look foolish and pretty impotent either way, and the amount of money the judges themselves are milking from these tribunals is just another example of a corrupt state-sponsored gravy train.

    Ivor Callelly’s political carrer is in ashes, as someone pointed out earlier int he week, because of a paint-job on his house worth about €1800 or something. And people are here trying to defend Ahern who’s after pocketing over €65,000, all from businessmen, and has the audacity to tell the media and the public to fuck off and mind their own business?

    Sounds like a lot of FF supporters I know. And if it was a FG politician, the same people would be tearing their hair out and screaming blue(shirt) murder that the guy was still in office.

    Lads, the civil war ended over 80 years ago for f*ck’s sake. Get over it. He’s a complete lame duck at this stage anyway.

  • George

    GrassyNoel,
    “the amount of money the judges themselves are milking from these tribunals is just another example of a corrupt state-sponsored gravy train.”

    Judges get a set wage and don’t get paid anything extra for working on tribunals as this would be unconstitutional.

    But don’t let facts bother you.

  • Greenflag

    grassynoel,

    From what I’m hearing the FF Parliamentary party is determined that Bertie will lead them into the next election . There’s not one FF TD who will want Bertie to walk the plank . Bertie is still their major electoral asset . As long as that situation remains and based on the public reaction so far it seems it will -Bertie will be Taoiseach at the end of next week and into the election.

    As for your lame duck ? Keep yours ears and eyes open – and watch the lame duck metamorphosise into a lame Rabbitte !

  • Brian Boru

    “From what I’m hearing the FF Parliamentary party is determined that Bertie will lead them into the next election . There’s not one FF TD who will want Bertie to walk the plank . Bertie is still their major electoral asset . As long as that situation remains and based on the public reaction so far it seems it will -Bertie will be Taoiseach at the end of next week and into the election.”

    There is no clear evidence of what way public-opinion is going, other that on RTE radio programs they say 55%-60% of the calls are anti-Bertie. Also an online poll on independent.ie (Irish Independent website) says 66% believe Bertie’s did something wrong. Likewise a TV3 news telephone poll found 55% felt the same. Now we haven’t seen a national-poll on this yet, but I would expect something along those lines would be likely at the weekend. I predict that if Bertie does not go, FF support may fall below 30%. Would the FF backbenchers rather lose the election than remove their leader?

  • Greenflag

    ‘There is no clear evidence of what way public-opinion is going,’

    Well I’m sure you heard what Martin Mansergh said about how the crowd responded to Bertie at Farmleigh also Martin’s comment that journalists are not above the law !
    I would’nt mind the RTE ‘results ‘ anyway . Everyone one knows that most of the hacks in RTE are labour party or ex worker party drones . As for the Irish Independent ? Give me a break . The only poll wich will matter on this issue if it comes to down to it will be an election poll !

    ‘Would the FF backbenchers rather lose the election than remove their leader? ‘

    Its not a case of either or . If they hang Bertie on this issue they’ll hang themselves . A lot of FF voters would be pissed enough about hanging Bertie on this issue to probably vote independent or not at all . I would be one of them .

  • Brian Boru

    So tell me this Greenflag. Do you think it is okay for a sitting Finance Minister to get €39,000 in cash from businessmen for his personal use. Yes or No. I can tell you as a traditional FF voter that I despise the notion.

  • Brian Boru

    Actually its £39,000/€50,000.

  • joeCanuck

    First of all:
    I despise corrupt politicians.
    Secondly: If a government minister took money from Businessmen in the expectation that there would be a quid pro quo, he should not only be hounded from office, he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
    Thirdly, if a bloke is down on his luck and a bunch of his friends decide to help him out, then he is blessed with real friends.
    There have been some very shady politicians in the ROI; I don’t think Bertie is one of them

  • Crataegus

    GrassyNoel

    I would agree with your observation of a deep underlying moral ambiguity in Irish society an ability to suspend common sense. Being one of ours over rules other considerations. North and South this has corrupted to the core differently but in a very fundamental way.

    As for Bertie surviving, in that context, nothing would surprise me, but if he does this isn’t likely to go away and in time it would be difficult to know if it will fade or fester. Only Bertie knows for sure if there is more to this.

    The interests of FF will be, not right or wrong, but self interest. They will drop their leader even if he is heinously accused if public opinion swings against them.

    I personally just don’t buy what I am being told. It feels wrong, it feels like a fairy tale of noble friends gallantly stepping in to save the lad from Dub in his darkest hour. Of pots of gold (small pots, very very small pots, trifling affairs) and all in all no Bank account and savings stashed under the floor boards or in a secret cave, open sesame, and we are meant to buy this?

    Bertie is no fool on matters financial and has a mind for detail so I would be amazed if it were either the entire truth or the entirety of the affair. But who knows fact sometimes, just sometimes, can be mighty strange.

  • John Morris

    The securocrats set Bertie up. It is an attwmpt to destroy the Peace Process and undermine Sinn Fein and Mary Lou McDonald, the greatest Irishwoman who ever lived. Besides, it is small beer compared to any run of the mill IRA stick up or drug deal.

  • Crataegus

    John

    I know its autumn and field mushrooms are tempting by you need to be careful what you pick.

  • Greenflag

    Brian Boru,

    Joe Canuck has answered for me 🙂

    I would add that I look to politicans to achieve practical and beneficial economic and political results for the country . I believe that they should be held to the highest ethical standards and I’m glad that there are now official guidelines laid down. To be fair these were laid down by Bertie’s Government .

    I also trust the judgements of Brian Cowan and Martin Mansergh . I think this whole matter has been exploited by the Opposition parties for one reason and one reason only . They know that as long as Bertie is Taoiseach they will remain in opposition .

    I don’t see Bertie Ahern as a ‘corrupt politician ‘ . I see him as the best Taoiseach this country could have at this time .

  • Celbridger

    So, does the appointment of one of the contributors to the chairmanship of a public body, on Bertie’s admission purely because he was a friend, count as corruption?

  • Crataegus

    Celdridger

    A friend in need! Isn’t it good to have friends.

  • Greenflag

    Grassynoel/Crataegus,

    ‘I would agree with your observation of a deep underlying moral ambiguity in Irish society an ability to suspend common sense.’

    Not so much a moral ambiguity as a reluctance to see the world in simply black and white terms . Of course the law is the law but for a very long period in Irish History the ‘law’ was not the peoples ‘law’ and even worse the ‘law’ was directed against people’s sense of identity, religion etc etc .

    Perhaps people in Ireland may eventually ‘evolve’ to the much simpler morally unambiguous black and white Paisleyite view of the universe in which God is a protestant and catholics all go to hell .

    No thanks .

  • Crataegus

    Greenflag

    or a very long period in Irish History the ‘law’ was not the peoples ‘law’

    Ahh it’s the fault of the English

    Whilst I agree the world is shades of grey, but when you see white it stands out as does the darker hues. The problem is, I just do not believe the tale that’s being told. Cynical or common sense take your choice.

  • Greenflag

    Celbridger /Crat

    ‘A friend in need is a pest indeed ‘

    according GF’s curmudgeon alter ego:)

  • Crataegus

    Greenflag

    Now that I can believe

  • Greenflag

    ‘Ahh it’s the fault of the English ‘

    No just another side effect of one of the more negative societal impacts of conquest by an imperial power. Happens all over the world .

    ‘.I just do not believe the tale that’s being told.’

    Fair enough . The part that bothers me although it should’nt is that how can a man who has been the most successful Finance Minister and Taoiseach in the State hardly have a bean to his name ?

    I know plumbers who live in bigger houses than Bertie :

    On the RTE news last night we hear that two Irish priests certain Fathers Skehan and Guinan were arrested in Palm Beach, Florida for apparently having 8.5 million dollars no longer resting in their accounts .

    Now that’s what I call corruption !

  • Fintan, Portlaoise

    If I could think of anything to tell a bunch of fat cat businessmen that they’d be willing to pay £8,000 to hear, I’d be gargling my throat and practising my gestures right now. But, sadly, I have to work my bony a*se off for several months to get that much dosh. But look on the bright side: I suppose we can all take some pride in knowing thatIreland has the best politicians that money can buy!

  • Greenflag

    ‘I suppose we can all take some pride in knowing thatIreland has the best politicians that money can buy! ‘

    They or at least some of them actually get results 🙂

    Not to mention they cost a lot less than the clergy .

    Imagine being a FP member of the DUP party . There you are , 40 years of coughing up the dosh every Sunday at the Martyr’s Memorial and paying your taxes and what do you get ?

    A basket case economy and a politician who gets paid for sitting on his arse and saying No ?

    Not what I would call a good return on investment unless of course you truly believe that all that dosh will buy your ticket into the Prod only heaven awaiting Paisley and his ilk ?

    And the result?

    Ballymena 25% Fenian -Newry 5% Prod

    White Elephant Assembly – wasted millions 🙁

    Please feel free to continue the list 🙁

  • J McConnell

    Greenflag

    > > Ahh it’s the fault of the English ‘
    >
    > No just another side effect of one of the more
    > negative societal impacts of conquest by an
    > imperial power. Happens all over the world

    I agree. A quick look at the book “Cattle Lords and Clansmen: The Social Structure of Early Ireland” by Patterson will show how it was the imperialist conquests by those bloddy Celts that first introduced political clientism in its modern form into Irish society.