So I do tend to read Tribunal transcripts quite a lot. This week has been thrilling to say the least, much new detail has emerged. One thing that I ask myself now is not about whether Bertie Ahern received large sums of cash.
The question I am asking myself now is exactly how connected is Ahern to the widespread planning corruption that pervaded Dublin during the 80s and 90s. There are certainly indirect connections to Frank Dunlop, via Des Richardson and his ‘companies’. There are connections to the failed Phoenix casino plan, to dollar transactions, to an array of developments.
Massive sums of cash were making their way into the accounts of Bertie Ahern. While Ahern says they are from friends, many of them were also property developers, who directly gained from planning and Government decisions.
A good example of this is Tim Collins, one of the donors to Ahern, and a close friend and a trustee of St Luke’s, who was involved with a company, Deepriver Ltd, who bought the Battle of the Boyne site for €3.43m in 1997, and sold it to the State in 2000 for €9.4m. For his trouble, Collins made €600,000. He was warned last year by the Tribunal, because he ‘forgot’ to mention this fact.
Tim Collins was also involved with Des Richardson in Work Force Limited, the ‘company’ that facilitated the £5,000 donation from NCB stockbrokers.
Ahern has not explained these huge cash lodgements by any means. And the more the Tribunal probes, the less Ahern’s story holds water.