FF vote may expel Ahern

Published Friday, 23 March 2012
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A vote to expel former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern from Fianna Fáil is the only route available for colleagues after a corruption inquiry found he did not tell the truth about cash payments, it has been claimed.

FF vote may expel Ahern
The findings of the 15-year Mahon Tribunal were released on Thursday. (© Pacemaker)

Party leader Micheál Martin said evidence showed that Mr Ahern fell short of the standard of personal behaviour which all holders of public office should uphold.

The 15-year Mahon Tribunal, whose findings were released on Thursday, did not brand Mr Ahern corrupt, but refused to accept any explanations he offered for the quarter of a million Irish pounds of bank lodgements he made in the early 1990s.

Mr Martin said the tribunal's comments relating to Mr Ahern are extremely serious.

"The findings of the tribunal that the explanations it was given were untrue and the amounts involved are very serious and can not be ignored," he said.

"No matter how high a member rises within the party and in elected office, they still carry a duty of trust for the members of Fianna Fáil and for the people who elected them."

The future of the leader of three coalition governments as a party veteran is unclear - it will be decided next Friday in a special vote by the national executive.

Under-pressure Mr Martin also refuted Judge Alan Mahon's criticisms of Mr Ahern's cabinet, who he claimed stepped up to attack and attempt to collapse the tribunal.

One minister, Dick Roche, suggested the investigation was voyeurism, while Mr Martin himself said it was bizarre.

Mr Martin said he could not be judge and jury on which comments the tribunal was referring to.

"I take this comment seriously but the fact is that the report provides no details upon which a response can be given and it is not up to others to decide what instances the tribunal is specifically referring to," said Mr Martin.

"It is to be assumed that the tribunal does not view all criticism of its work as unacceptable."

On Thursday, after reading the report, Mr Ahern once again denied that he accepted bribes.

He 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."

Current Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was without 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.

© UTV News
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BRIAN ROWAN
The pictures from Stormont this week showed us how politics here still walks in and out of step.
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