The Irish Independent helpfully outlines the comings and goings of Bertie Ahern’s many financial accounts in this morning’s edition. It’s interesting reading, to say the least. For a former Minister of Finance (and present Prime Minister) to have conducted his personal financial affairs in such a slapdash and frankly sinister way is nothing short of astounding. For example:
January 19 — £50,000 in cash withdrawn by Celia Larkin and given to Bertie, waiting in a car around the corner. Ahern says he used some of the £30,000 or so cash to ask someone, whose name he can’t remember, to buy £30,000 stg cash for him.
“Whose name he can’t remember”?! WTF?
Ahern’s evidence to the Mahon Tribunal has been cringe-making. His excuses for these various financial irregularities have been worse than those of a schoolboy caught copying someone else’s homework. He’s an embarrassment to the country and should be given the boot (and a jail sentence) as soon as humanly possible.
Further to the announcement that he would be making a statement to the Dail concerning his private finances, it now appears that he’s going to back-track on this. Senior cabinet ministers have warned him off saying anything outside of the tribunal.
After meeting Tanaiste Brian Cowen briefly before the weekend, Mr Ahern spoke to up to four other senior Fianna Fail ministers.
A senior source said: “He did test the waters of some senior ministers on what he should do. The advice from some was the tribunal was the setting to deal with these matters and to deal with it there.”
This advice would generally tally with the opinions expressed publicly last week by ministers Dermot Ahern, Willie O’Dea and Brian Lenihan when asked about the demands for clarification by Greens leader John Gormley and PDs’ leader Mary Harney.
Mr Ahern is now understood to be “mulling over” what exactly he will say if asked by the opposition on Wednesday to explain the difference between his evidence and that of his former secretary, Grainne Carruth.
“The jury is still out on what he should do. It will only happen if he is asked, but the time is limited. He is mulling over it now,” the source said.
Contrary to firm indications earlier in the weekend that he would make some statement in the Dail to clarify matters, it now appears it is no longer as clear-cut following his discussions with ministers.
The problem with deferring his explanation to his next appearance at Dublin Castle is the Taoiseach is not scheduled to appear until at least May 20, unless a suitable date can be made available in the intervening period.
Mr Ahern’s complicated explanation for the contradiction in evidence is understood to centre on a new claim that he cashed the salary cheques into sterling and that this foreign currency was then cashed back into punts and lodged into his Irish Permanent savings accounts by Ms Carruth.
Disgusting. It’s like watching the Haughey saga unfold once again.