“He will do so before the time limit for taking the fees expires”

With another meeting apparently scheduled between Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Tánaiste Michael McDowell tomorrow, on the Manchester payment and any other matters, the Sunday Times unearths a tantalising piece of information. Despite being awarded damages and costs in a successful libel case he brought in 2001, as a private individual, against a Cork developer who had claimed that Ahern had been paid IR£50,000 (€63,500) by another developer in 1989, Bertie Ahern has yet to make any effort to collect the monies awarded.As the Sunday Times reports

When Ahern took the case in August 2000, O’Brien instructed his legal team to defend the action, providing them with pass books and bank statements to corroborate his claims. However, 10 months later, when hearings began, O’Brien ordered his legal team not to run a defence.

Despite having won the case, Ahern’s legal team brought a series of witnesses to the court, including the managing director of the Irish Nationwide Building Society. He was to testify that documents purporting to prove the existence of the account through which the alleged payments were made had been forged.

No complaints by the bank, criminal charges or garda investigation have followed against the developer.

It has now emerged that Ahern never made an effort to recover the €30,000 damages he was awarded, nor the legal costs which were awarded against O’Brien by the court.

As well as employing solicitors for 10 months, Ahern hired three barristers for the case. They included Rory Brady, a senior counsel, who was made attorney-general a year later. A conservative estimate of the legal costs owed to the taoiseach would be €30,000.

Yesterday Ahern’s spokeswoman said that he had brought the case as a private individual and would have had to pay the legal fees himself. She agreed that he has never sought the damages nor the legal fees. “He will do so before the time limit for taking the fees expires, apparently some time next year,” she said.