“I’ve never misled people either.”

In response to Michael McDowell’s call for “a credible and comprehensive public statement” yesterday, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has denied misleading the Tánaiste and said he’ll be meeting his legal team on Wednesday or Thursday before making any statement.. sometime before the election day.. although some think it will be later this week. The Irish Times also has the quotes from the Sky News interview.. where Bertie rules out government with Sinn Féin “because of policy differences” [Groucho quote? – Ed] and makes a prediction “On the North..”Those quotes from the Sky News interview via the Irish Times

During an interview with Sky News Mr Ahern was asked if he was saying that he was not “a crook” and had never received any improper payments from which he had gained financially.

“Absolutely,” he answered. “Anything I ever gained or anything that I ever benefited, which was never much, was always done in proper circumstances. And I’ve never been involved in anything improper, at any time in a long political career.”

He added: “I’ve never misled people either. Any of my records are there. I’ve actually given all these to two different tribunals over the last number of years. I’ve given them to revenue authorities. So I’ve no difficulty”

That’s not what Michael McDowell thinks..

As I said on Thursday and Friday last, information came to me from a number of sources which suggested strongly to that the account given to me last Autumn [by Bertie Ahern] was very partial, incomplete and – at best – selective.

As for not being involved in anything improper.. how about inappropriate and imprudent?

This was a practise which has to be viewed as both inappropriate and imprudent, having regard to the nature of the account (being one used to administer funds provided from the public purse), the skills and experience then possessed by Mr. Ahern, and the absence of any internal or external audit of the account.

The Green Party leader Trevor Sargent has made his view clear.

And the other quotes from the Irish Times

Mr Ahern also insisted that “because of policy differences” Fianna Fáil would not go into government with Sinn Féin. “That’s not going to happen. Whatever about some distant future time, what might happen in the political context in the South, it’s not going to happen at this stage.”

On the North, Mr Ahern said that recent progress had been “extraordinary”. However, he said that a united Ireland was not a short-term aim and that “no-one is in to trying to force anyone anywhere”.

“I do hope at some future date that the people of Northern Ireland would see that working in an all-island context would be a good thing. But it’s not going to happen in the short term. It’s not even helpful to push that in the short term because it’s not going to happen.

“I think in the short term and medium term what’s going to happen is that the people in Northern Ireland can comfortably live with each other, that they engage on economic and social issues. That they work for the development of Northern Ireland” and closely with people in southern Ireland.