Former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has got his revenge in first ahead of the publication of the Mahon Tribunal – as controversy grows over his lavish expense claims since he quit politics.
The one time government leader and Fianna Fail party boss has claimed a staggering $380,000 in secretarial expenses and another $11,000 in cell phone bills since he left office in 2008.
Ahern, well ahead of John Burton and Albert Reynolds in his claims, is currently entitled to the payments as a former Prime Minister but the new government is looking to cut the scheme.
Meanwhile, Ahern has heavily criticized the forthcoming publication of the findings of the Mahon Tribunal even though he has yet to see the report which is expected to produce damning evidence on his time in office.
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The former Fianna Fail leader told a college radio station that the tribunal’s persistent interest in his personal finances was ‘trash’.
He also denied newspaper reports that the Tribunal will dismiss his evidence about the source of his considerable personal wealth during his time in office.
“Well, I don’t know that,” said Ahern. “The Daily Mail said that. I wouldn’t believe the date on the Daily Mail. So, you know, I haven’t got a clue what’ll be in it.
“The only thing that’s important to me is the central allegation that has been made against me.
“Well, there’s four: Did I interfere in the designation of Blanchardstown / Quarryvale? That’s number one. Number two, did I interfere with the planning of Quarryvale / Blanchardstown?
“Number three, did I take money from O’Callaghan? Number four, did I take money from any of the six companies named?
“They’re the only issues that matter. And the answer to the four of those, as far as I’m concerned, is ‘No’.
“Now what the tribunal says about all the other trash is irrelevant. That’s all irrelevant. The answer to those four questions is the important thing.”