On Bertie’s last years in power…

Green Senator Dan Boyle has been talking out school it seems. Speaking on Newstalk, he suggested that Bertie Ahern is on the same limited time as his old buddy Tony Blair:

“He won’t be putting himself forward as Taoiseach at the next general election. We’re now in a period of time that we have to find out, discover from the Taoiseach himself, when he feels his time for leaving within this period of Government is. We’re probably coming close to a time when his own party colleagues will look for finality on that. . . We don’t have a direct role in deciding who the leader of Fianna Fáil is.

But, inside the Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole has collated a bunch of information taken from Bertie’s own utterances inside the Dail and to the Tribunal that could spell an earlier rather than a later departure for the Teflon Taoiseach.

Bertie Ahern became treasurer of Fianna Fáil on January 28th, 1993, though he had informally assumed the role in the latter months of 1992. When he took on the job, the party was broke. So broke that Ahern took two drastic actions. The first, as he told the Dáil in 1999, was to stop constituency fundraising: “Early in my term as treasurer we suspended local activities in constituencies so the money could go to the national organisation, which was in a poor financial state.”

The second was to ask party workers to dig into their own pockets to bail out Fianna Fáil. “We set up . . . a loan scheme whereby party workers were asked to donate funds to put party finances in order . . . the scheme raised approximately £300,000. The majority of this money was by way of direct contributions and the balance was by way of interest-free loans.”

1. He received a cheque for £5,000 in December 1993. The donor is unknown, but the money came from a company rather than an individual. It was, according to Ahern, a “political donation for my personal use”, but we know this money was not a personal gift. Otherwise, Ahern, as minister for finance, would surely have declared it to the Revenue. It was therefore intended for political use. But Ahern took half of it as cash and used the other half to open a building society account “for the purpose of saving money so that when I wanted a mortgage I could get one”.

2. £30,000 was withdrawn from the so-called B/T account in March 1993 and given to Ahern’s partner Celia Larkin towards the purchase of a house in her name. This money unquestionably belonged to Fianna Fáil. Ahern described it as “a Dublin Central constituency account in the name of Tim Collins . . . this was a Fianna Fáil account and it was administered by Fianna Fáil”.

3. Further, unquantified, sums of money given to the party for political purposes also found their way into Bertie Ahern’s pocket. He accepted at the tribunal that he “regularly received political donations which were to be understood as being capable of being used for personal purposes”.

On the Taoiseach’s own evidence, therefore, he and his partner received significantly more than £35,000 from monies that were raised by or donated to Fianna Fáil – well in excess of 10 per cent of the money that the party was simultaneously raising from its activists in donations and soft loans.

Considering the pressure currently on the Speaker of the House of Commons over £4,000 of taxi rides, this looks serious. The difference is that this a party matter. But, O’Toole notes, there is at least one precedent that will make some party loyalists squirm:

On his [Ahern’s] direct instructions, the party general secretary wrote on October 6th, 1998, to Pádraig Flynn. An allegation had emerged that Flynn had received a donation from Tom Gilmartin which he had failed to pass on to the party. The letter stated that “the trustees of the party have various legal and fiduciary duties towards the membership of the party. These duties include an obligation to ascertain whether funds were given to any person with the intention that these funds were to be applied for the benefit of the Fianna Fáil party.” A party investigation into the matter was a “legal necessity”.

Hmmm…

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  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Berty is just the latest example of the systemic corruption that has characterised the Warriors of Destiny since Haughey came to power.

    The Irish electorate got the leader they deserved – how anybody could have been convinced by Berty’s crying act on RTE is beyond me. The fact is the plain people of Ireland probably knew he was lying through his teeth – but although they would not have bought a second hand car from him they mistakenly thought that the economy, and more particularly house prices would hold up if they put the fecker back in – the dull tuzzers.

  • dewi

    It’s the thirty grand to his partner from party funds to buy a house that must mean the end for him surely.

  • Briso

    Speaking of dodgy financial dealings, any chance of a thread on Alliance Sleaze?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/7265618.stm

  • Derry Fianna Fail

    Bertie will be proven to be one of the best politicians this country has ever known.

  • Dublin

    ‘Bertie will be proven to be one of the best politicians this country has ever known.’

    Will be ? Obvious already I’d have thought.
    Ireland’e economy before Bertie and Ireland’s economy now is all the proof needed.

    As for Bertie’s sins ? Is’nt he a politician ? At least he delivered . Now if Paisley & Co/Trimble/Adams /McGuinness/Molyneaux/ had done the same for NI over the past 20 years then the witch hunt for Paisley Jr’s head might have been less intense ?

    PS .

    House prices were always going to drop and ye would have been an even duller ‘tuzzer’ if you believed they would’nt . Same in NI -UK- USA.

  • Greenflag

    ‘that must mean the end for him surely. ‘

    When asked by a reporters in Vienna – Bertie said ‘me mandate is until 2012 ‘. Asked if Brian Cowan had failed to give him less than full support ? Bertie replied
    ‘Nonsense’.

    This is not a case of Napoleon saying
    ‘Goodnight Vienna’ more a case of Bertie will cross the Rubicon when he’s ready and not before.
    I suspect it will be before 2012 . Must check with Paddy Power ๐Ÿ™‚ He’ll have a better forecast than Boyle or O’Toole or that Gilmore gobshite !

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Derry Fianna Fail

    I certainly was not suggesting that Berty was not a good politician – just that you would probably get higher ethical standards from the leader of the Teamster Union in NY.

    Dewi,

    “Itโ€™s the thirty grand to his partner from party funds to buy a house that must mean the end for him surely. ”

    Dont underestimate the capacity of the Irish electorate to tolerate extremely low standards in government – though he might need to do another ridiculous crying act on telly.

    It is a tight call for most surreal moment on Irish TV between the priests trapped in the lingerie department and Bertie telling us that although he was minister for Finance he didnt have a bank account.

  • Greenflag

    ‘It is a tight call for most surreal moment on Irish TV between the priests trapped in the lingerie department and Bertie telling us that although he was minister for Finance he didnt have a bank account.’

    Tight call ? I doubt it . Bertie wins that particular surreal handicap by half a furlong at least ๐Ÿ™‚

    ‘Dont underestimate the capacity of the Irish electorate to tolerate extremely low standards in government ‘

    Alas this ‘capacity ‘ is based on the school of hard knocks, the university of life, and harsh economic experience . Yes we admired Jack Lynch’s super clean image and Garret the Good’s strait laced integrity , De Valera’s high minded asceticism William Cosgrove’s constitutional exactitude, and John Bruton’s dull platitudes . But the thing is when you look at the ‘delivery ‘ side there was more achieved for the country’s economic health- by each one the three Dubs – Sean Lemass, CJ Haughey and Bert Ahern than any of the above good men ?

    Not sure what this tells us about ourselves , our politicians or the country . Parcel of rogues comes to mind but that term has long since been applied to the former political elite of a small neighbouring nation ๐Ÿ™‚

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Greenflag,

    true – “harsh economic experience” is a factor but so also is the fact that the local eejit is always better that the quarefellah from the other parish.

  • Greenflag

    ‘so also is the fact that the local eejit is always better that the quarefellah from the other parish. ”

    Hmmmmmmm . Always and for what ? I don’t think so as this oul ditty recalls . It may depend on the circumstances ๐Ÿ™‚

    circa 1899 Boer War –

    ‘And if ye go to the fighting front
    All out to fight de Boeeeer
    Just keep the Dublin heads behind
    Let the quarefellahs go before
    arra he was a quare one fol de diddle dero
    he was a quare one and I tell you’

    BTW the quarefellah mentioned above is a tribute to the man’s non Dublin origins and has nothing to do with sexual proclivities ๐Ÿ™‚