One more nail in the coffin Pt I

So what began in 1997 has finally been completed. The final report by Judge Alan Mahon, chairman of the Tribunal of Inquiry Into Certain Planning Matters and Payments was released last month. The tribunal which is estimated to cost €250 million, heard the evidence of 400 witnesses, sat for 917 days with 3 barristers earning €5 million or more in costs.  The words “corrupt” or “corruption” are used 977 times throughout the report. The tribunal also found against Fine Gael and Labour Party councillors.

Media reports said that “Corruption affected every level of government from cabinet ministers to local councillors during two decades of political dominance by Fianna Fáil, according to the final report of the planning tribunal”. The report was particularly damning of former government minsiters and two former prime ministers, with the same media coverage proclaiming “accused former taoiseach Bertie Ahern of untruthfulness. It found former European commissioner Pádraig Flynn behaved corruptly, and said another former taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, had abused his power”, the coverage adds that, “Ahern last night strongly disputed the report’s conclusions, saying he was incredulous at what he described as “objectionable and inaccurate” findings. He said he would be looking to vindicate his name”. The report itself was rightly damning of the political culture of the time noting,” Corruption in Irish political life was both endemic and systemic. It affected every level of government, from some holders of top ministerial offices to some local councillors, and its existence was widely known and widely tolerated”.

Current Fine Gael Prime Minister Enda Kenny said that he would bring the “report to the Garda Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Revenue Commissioners and the Standards in Public Office Commission”. Though, such is public disenchantment that little, if anything, is expected to come from these referrals.

The same media source says that the “tribunal found Mr Ahern had given untrue evidence about his personal finances, including lodgements to accounts that the tribunal found were large sterling and dollar cash lodgements. The tribunal found Mr Ahern knew the true source of some lodgements investigated by the tribunal, but chose not to disclose their origin. It also rejected the evidence of Mr Ahern and others to the effect that collections or ‘digouts’ occurred in 1993 and 1994 that resulted in Mr Ahern being given £22,500 and £16,500. The tribunal said it was satisfied a lodgement of £28,772.90 on December 5th, 1994, by Mr Ahern’s then partner, Celia Larkin, to an account in her name but to be held for Mr Ahern’s benefit, was not the proceeds of a payment by Manchester businessman Micheal Wall. The tribunal said it was satisfied it was in fact the result of the lodgement of $45,000 in cash”. It adds that “The report said because Mr Ahern did not give a true account as to the source of money lodged to his accounts, the tribunal had not been able to identify where the money came from. For that reason, it could not determine whether Mr Ahern had received corrupt payments from developer Owen O’Callaghan. The report also said while the tribunal was inquiring into matters relating to Mr Ahern in the 2007-2008 period, it ‘came under sustained and virulent attack from a number of senior government ministers who questioned, inter alia, the legality of its inquiries as well as the integrity of its members'”. The media article concludes that “The tribunal made more than 100 recommendations, including the appointment of a planning regulator, wider disclosure of interests by public officials, restrictions on political donations and a code for lobbyists”.

In response to the Mahon report, current leader of Fianna Fail, Michael Martin “proposed that former taoiseach Bertie Ahern be expelled from the party, saying he ‘betrayed the trust’ of the country and the political organisation. Mr Martin said the planning tribunal’s final report, which found Mr Ahern failed to “truthfully account” for the source of bank account lodgments, confirmed the former Fianna Fáil leader’s personal behaviour had fallen short of the standard expected of holders of high office. ‘In the manner in which he received this money while holding high office and in the giving of rejected evidence to a sworn tribunal Bertie Ahern betrayed the trust placed in him by this country and this party,’ Mr Martin said”. Yet, just days after this, Ahern resigned from the party. Martin’s actions are indeed ironic as he one just one of many Cabinet members who attempted to discredit and derail the tribunal.

In a statementin response to the findings of the tribunal Ahern said that the tribunal is “not the findings of a court of law”. The statement continues, ” I have never accepted a bribe or a corrupt payment”, adding, ” After spending over a decade of inquiries and countless millions of euros, the Tribunal has not made – nor could it make – a finding to support the scurrilous and untrue allegation that I had been given a corrupt payment by Mr Owen O’Callaghan”. Ahern adds amazingly, “I am disappointed that the Tribunal has said that I failed to give “a truthful account”.That statement is unfair and inaccurate having regard to the evidence. It is one that I cannot and I will never accept and I will continue to examine ways in which to vindicate my name”. This is in spite of the tribunal being unable to account for  IR£165,000.

The fact that such corruption and greed was so widespread is a damning indictment of the people of Ireland and the politics of that country that have, once again lead to to ruin. The irony of course is that the very party that set up the tribunal in November 1997, just months after their win in the 1997 General Election, came out worst as a result of the Mahon report. The future of the party hangs in the balance and will be dealt with in the final part.


2 Responses to “One more nail in the coffin Pt I”

  1. One more nail in the coffin Pt II « Order and Tradition Says:

    […] the final, and most relevant, part on the consequences of the recently released Mahon tribunal report the future of the political party that lead Ireland for 60 of the last 80 […]

  2. Europe’s failed state « Order and Tradition Says:

    […] in Spain as the endless euro crisis grinds on the Irish remain passive in spite of all that has happened over the last […]

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