By a Newsnet reporter
Bertie Ahern, Taoiseach of the Irish Republic between 1994 and 2008, is to be expelled by his Fianna Fáil party for “conduct unbecoming to a party member”. The decision comes as the long running Mahon Tribunal, an inquiry into allegations of corruption amongst Irish politicians, reaches its conclusion.
The inquiry into political and planning corruption in Dublin refused to accept the explanations offered by Mr Ahern for a quarter of a million pounds of payments made into his bank accounts in the early 1990s.
The Tribunal concluded: “Much of the explanation provided by Mr Ahern as to the source of the substantial funds identified and inquired into in the course of the Tribunal’s public hearings was deemed by the Tribunal to have been untrue.”
The chairperson of the Tribunal, Judge Alan Mahon, said that he could neither rule out nor confirm allegations that Mr Ahern had been paid off by a developer.
Speaking in response, Mr Ahern denied that he had accepted any illegal payments or bribes and said: “I am incredulous that the tribunal has made findings rejecting the evidence of a number of individuals – including a number of friends who loaned me money – whose evidence supported mine.”
But the present Taoiseach Enda Kenny said there was no question that the office of leader of the Irish Government had been stained by Mr Ahern’s actions.
“The tribunal speaks for itself – a litany of unacceptable statements from the former taoiseach,” Mr Kenny said.
The Tribunal did find that members of Mr Ahern’s government had acted inappropriately, including former minister and European Commissioner Padraig Flynn.
Mr Flynn took IR£50,000 from a developer who claimed that he felt coerced into paying the money. The cash was supposedly for the Fianna Fáil party but went towards buying a farm in Mayo.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said the party’s national executive would meet on 30 March to discuss the report and decide upon “swift and decisive action”.
Mr Martin said: “Although the central allegation against Bertie Ahern was not sustained, the evidence confirmed by the tribunal and its comments relating to him are extremely serious.
“The report records that Bertie Ahern gave a significant amount of evidence to the tribunal which, in the opinion of the tribunal, was untrue.
“It is a matter of profound personal and professional regret to see confirmed in this report the extent to which Bertie Ahern fell short of the standard of personal behaviour which is expected of the holders of high office.”
A motion to expel Mr Ahern and Mr Flynn from Fianna Fáil will be raised at the meeting.
In July 2011, the Irish Daily Mail reported that the Mahon Tribunal report was “virtually complete” with “one volume dedicated solely to Mr Ahern”. The article further stated that the findings of the report would leave Ahern’s reputation in “tatters”.