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Former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern during the launch of his autobiography at Mansion House in Dublin. Photo by: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The Deep Throat emigrant who doomed Bertie Ahern and exposed political corruption

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Former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern during the launch of his autobiography at Mansion House in Dublin. Photo by: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Since the report into planning corruption in Dublin was published, on Thursday (22nd March), Ahern has dramatically resigned from the party he led into Government three times since 1997 - just days ahead of a meeting where its national executive was to vote on a proposal from current leader, Micheál Martin, to expel him. Flynn has jumped ship also.

Ahern, who was once dubbed the “most skilful, the most devious, the most cunning of them all” by his mentor, Haughey, has been proven to have been too clever by half in his tribunal evidence.

His explanations concerning the source of large cash sums, including dollar and sterling amounts, which flowed through various accounts under his control in the early 1990s was rubbished in the tribunal report. The associates who gave evidence that they had collected cash for him, or ‘dig-outs’, to help him through a time when the politician had marital problems were accused of lying on his behalf.  In desperation, he claimed that he had won significant amounts of the sterling sums ‘on the horses’. He was forced to resign as Taoiseach in 2008 over his ‘incredible’ evidence at the tribunal. 

Its investigation into his personal finances commenced when Gilmartin informed tribunal lawyers of a conversation with the aforementioned Cork developer  Owen O’Callaghan during which the Cork developer said he had paid up to £80,000 in bribes to Ahern between 1989 and 1994.

When I published the sensational story in 2002 that the tribunal was examining this allegation against the prime minister all hell broke loose. The then justice minister, Michael McDowell, went on national radio to attack me, claiming the story was untrue. When I challenged him to point out the inaccuracy he was unable to do so.

Days later, Ahern told reporters that he had never taken a corrupt payment in his political life. Two years on, as the tribunal inquiries proceeded at a snail’s pace, not least because of legal and other delays put in its way by those it was investigating, I joined the Chuck Feeney funded Centre for Public Inquiry as its executive director. As we set about investigating matters of public importance I became the subject of a vicious campaign led by Ahern and McDowell until the funding was withdrawn in late 2005.

When I returned to newspaper journalism I took up where I had left off in relation to the tribunal investigations and published a series of investigative articles which highlighted the extraordinary details of Ahern’s duplicity. Among the huge amounts he received was a $45,000 sum in late 1994 just as the Reynolds led government disintegrated. Weeks earlier, Ahern had met with Los Angeles broker, Bill O’Connor of Chilton O’Connor, and O’Callaghan, to discuss a sports stadium they were promoting in west Dublin.

The tribunal has not established a direct link between monies received by Ahern and decisions he made as finance minister but its comprehensive report has pointed to a litany of suspicious behaviour.  It is now fair to ask another question. If he was in receipt of such unexplained amounts of money when finance minister what did he make when Prime Minister for eleven years.
 

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