“it is the interpretation of these facts which seems to have disturbed the PDs so much”

Despite yesterday’s speculation, RTÉ reports that the Progressive Democrats have announced that they are not withdrawing from government. Instead the PD leader, Michael McDowell, has called on Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to give “a credible and comprehensive public statement” and that the statement “must be made before polling day and go beyond the Quarryvale aspect of the Mahon Tribunal.” Hmm.. Meanwhile the Sunday Independent’s Jody Corcoran has said he gave the PDs the new “highly significant” information that has concerned Michael McDowell so much.. but he can’t tell us what it is.. Adds Statement by Michael McDowell

It now appears that the Tribunal has been given a radically different account of the transactions which were the subject of public controversy last Autumn from that which was given to me by the Taoiseach then.

From the RTÉ report

In a statement this morning, Mr McDowell said he believed information given by the Taoiseach on his personal finances had been anything but complete.

He said it is now appropriate that a full statement be made by Mr Ahern and he said that the information given by the Taoiseach last autumn was very different from the information now available from other sources.

The PDs have said the statement must be made before polling day and go beyond the Quarryvale aspect of the Mahon Tribunal.

Mr McDowell said the Taoiseach must now give a credible and comprehensive public statement.

‘While in the Sunday Independent

On Friday morning, when I spoke to the Minister for Justice, he was aware that I had the entire story.

Much of it, certainly the more meaty parts, had already, by that stage been put into the public domain, mainly by the Mail on Sunday and the Irish Times , two newspapers with their own agenda, as every newspaper has.

What I told the PDs was more of the same, information already out there. There seemed to me to be no silver bullet, as such, no revelation not already in circulation that they were not already aware of.

But it is the interpretation of these facts which seems to have disturbed the PDs so much.

Certainly the entire interconnected story had not been put together chronologically. The nuances of who did what, when and why was lost on Mr McDowell, until the information I supplied filled in the gaps.

Some of the further information I provided turned up on the front page of the Irish Times yesterday, relating to the Taoiseach’s alleged involvement in foreign exchange transactions.

But I also relayed to him certain matters relating to missing files; of issues relating to insurance payments and of the specific roles played by certain people in the political, legal and business professions, many of these people known to the Tanaiste.

I told him everything I knew – or most of it – to allow him to make the decision he must now make.

As I write this at 6pm on Saturday, it seems the PDs are preparing to pull out of Government, to abandon Fianna Fail, or rather, to cut loose Bertie Ahern, and fight the election alone.

Mr McDowell is between a rock and a hard place. He is now attempting to choreograph the PDs’ exit and, in doing so, will do his utmost to distance his party from Fianna Fail.

It will be a damage limitation exercise. The best he can now hope for is that the electorate will not punish him too severely, whichever decision he arrives at, and they could punish him either way.

Adds From Michael McDowell’s statement

This issue first arose in September/October of last year. At that time I met with the Taoiseach to express my concerns at what was emerging and to seek to clarify in detail the circumstances surrounding the issue.

In response the Taoiseach gave me information which purported to be a full disclosure of all relevant matters in respect of this issue and on the basis of that disclosure, I agreed to continue in Government with Fianna Fail.

However in recent days it has clearly emerged that the information given to me by the Taoiseach was far from complete.

During last week I received additional information from a number of sources which suggested that the picture given by various parties to the Tribunal differed markedly from that given to me by the Taoiseach last Autumn.

In those circumstances I felt that it was important for me to ascertain whether these suggestions coming from different sources were correct.

It now appears that the Tribunal has been given a radically different account of the transactions which were the subject of public controversy last Autumn from that which was given to me by the Taoiseach then.

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