That’s the most polite way I can put it. Piece by piece Ahern’s story of dig-outs and donations is falling apart. And it will continue to fall apart. Both of the so-called digouts no longer stand up to scrutiny. They were not friends helping out a pal in need. They were people with vested interests giving money to the Minister for Finance and later Fianna Fail leader, who later became Taoiseach.
Let’s deal with the donations that came to light in 2006.
The £22,500 digout for legal expenses, Christmas 1993
Ahern already paid his legal expenses by the time he received this cash. He took out a loan, with very soft conditions from AIB to meet the costs his solicitor friend Gerry Brennan was seeking. Brennan, for some strange reason, organised a whipround in order to pay his own fees.
But by the time the money was presented to Ahern, the bill had already been paid – and Brennan must have known this. What happened the £22,500? It went into a high interest savings account. Later, the following April, it was joined by more cash, part of Ahern’s alleged £50,000 in savings. Not alone that, but the donor of the biggest amount – £5,000 from Padraic O’Connor – was from a man who said he never intended for Ahern personally, and was never his friend. All of that through the vehicle of shady companies run by Ahern’s close friend, Des Richardson.
The £16,500 goodwill payment & the Manchester payment
I believe the Tribunal will find these were fictitious. There is no evidence whatsoever for either event. Ahern has refused to name any of the businessmen he believes were present, yet he said they were worth over £50m each. The donors of the £16,500 cash are all friends of Ahern. It is pretty clear that things did not happen as Ahern has described, even if the meetings did take place.
The crucial point with this is the sum that was lodged, £24,838.49. Ahern says this was a combination of the £16,500 (that he later changed his mind to saying it might be slightly more or less), and the circa £8,000 stg. He can’t be sure exactly how much – how convenient. But the figure, says Ahern, is incidental.
Taking into account the bank charges that AIB charge, and the exchange rate that day in the branch, the total equates exactly to a sum of £25,000 sterling. The average sterling transaction in that branch per day was £2,000. Yet, the very same day Ahern lodged his money, so was mysteriously, a massive amount of sterling. Coincidence? I think not. (Q505, Ahern)
The other lodgments make his story even less plausible. The £30,000 in April was lodged one week after the meeting with O’Callaghan. Why the need for a dig-out in December when there was an alleged £30k in savings hanging around? The August lodgment into his daughters’ accounts – £20,000. More savings? The alleged £25,000 stg lodgment in October, where did that come from? The Michael Wall lodgment, equating to $45,000. The alleged re-lodging of £50,000 in 1995, was it as he says it was?
Lots of questions, but no answers from An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. To use a quote from the current Minister for Environment, John Gormley “a deceitful, untrustworthy Taoiseach”. (Prime Time, September 26, 2002)