Could it be? Could Bertie Ahern‘s financial ghosts finally be catching up with him? Could good sense overcome political and legal maneuvering? It would seem the tide is turning at last…
First was the shocking breakdown of his former secretary at the Mahon Tribunal, in stark contrast to the blustering and implausible excuses from previous (incredibly wealthy) witnesses.
Then the leaders of two of Bertie’s government coalition partners, the Greens and the Progressive Democrats, wondered publicly if it wouldn’t be a good idea if Bertie could explain the inconsistencies between his (fantastical) testimony and that of his secretary. As the Irish Times points out:
THE TOTAL value of lodgements and other transactions that have to date been queried by the Mahon tribunal in its public inquiries into the finances of the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, exceeds £452,800, an analysis by The Irish Times Colm Keena , Public Affairs Correspondent, reports. shows.
The lodgements and transactions occurred between 1988 and 1997, although the vast bulk of the money was lodged in the period to 1995.
The total is the equivalent of €886,830 in today’s terms, applying the consumer price index for the period 1994 to 2008.
Although he initially said he wouldn’t be making any additional statements prior to his next appearance before the tribunal, he’s changed his mind and has announced that he will in fact be making a statement to the Dail. I cannot wait to read his next tortuous explanation, which will surely give Hans Christian Andersen a run for his money.
From today’s Irish Independent:
In what will be one of the most important and scrutinised speeches of his political career, Mr Ahern will attempt on Wednesday to dispel growing unease about contradictions on his personal finances between his evidence and that of his former secretary Grainne Carruth.
His decision to make a statement represents a dramatic U-turn on his previous claim that the tribunal was the “appropriate forum” to deal with the controversy.
It is also deeply embarrassing for Fianna Fail ministers such as Brian Lenihan, Dermot Ahern and Willie O’Dea, who have publicly backed his stance.
The Taoiseach was forced to act after the leaders of the PDs and Green Party called for an explanation about stg£15,000 lodged to his account by Ms Carruth.
A week after Ms Carruth broke down in tears during her testimony in Dublin Castle, the future of the coalition Government was thrown into doubt for the first time since its June 2007 formation.
However, I think Twenty Major has the best take on this entire sorry saga (not for the hand-wringing easily offended types out there…)
Bottom line: Ahern is a lying little guttersnipe who is only too willing to let other people carry the can for his own dishonesty. Never mind a tribunal of inquiry, he should be booted from office and a general election called as soon as possible. Then he can face a proper criminal inquiry, as any private citizen would have to. You know, with the police. And the courts. And the threat of jail.