This went completely over my head it seems.
Solicitor Gerry Brennan, the man who did the whip-round for Ahern in order to pay Ahern’s legal fees, was in fact the solicitor acting for Ahern in the proceedings. So Brennan knew how much Ahern would owe in legal fees because he was the man charging Ahern the legal fees. So he suggested to Richardson that they gather some money in order to pay him. How odd.
Even stranger, Brennan handed over the money to Ahern. Which Ahern was then supposed to use to pay Brennan.
Counsel for the tribunal also makes another interesting point. Ahern characterised the £22,500 as a ‘debt of honour’. If it was a debt, why did he not pay back the estates of either Fintan Gunne or Paddy Reilly upon their deaths?
Curiously, at the time, Ahern was sole signatory on cheques that were being lodged into accounts of Willdover, through the Reynolds Ahern account. This was Fianna Fail money going to Willdover. And then Willdover money going to Ahern personally.
Indeed, just before Christmas, on December 1, 1993, the Willdover account was overdrawn to the tune of £10,346. By the 20th, the account is overdrawn to £8,572. Willdover was being paid by Fianna Fail for fundraising services.
On December 22, the day before Ahern applied for his loan, and his SSA account, Willdover received a cheque from Fianna Fail, signed by Bertie Ahern, to the tune of £18,744. This included £15,000 in fees for Richardson and £3,744 for Deborah Burke fees.
So Richardson invoiced Sean Fleming in Fianna Fail for that amount and received it the same day Richardson made a cheque out for £2,500 from this account to Ahern, as part of the £22,500 digout.
It is important to also not that Willdover Limited did not operate as a company. Richardson was not the director, it was not VAT registered, it paid no taxes, filed no returns. It was entirely an entity with no definable links to Richardson, but one that Richardson used for personal expenses, and for being paid by Fianna Fail. £382,000 passed through the bank accounts of Willdover in the time the company operated. Just like Berraway, Willdover was simply Richardson wearing a different hat.