Fianna Fail moves to expel former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

Irish political party Fianna Fail has said it will seek to expel its former leader and prime minister Bertie Ahern in the wake of the Mahon Tribunal.

The tribunal found that Mr Ahern failed to truthfully account for a number of financial transactions, but did not make a corruption finding against him.

Mr Ahern said he had never "received a corrupt payment".

However, the party said the findings regarding Mr Ahern constituted "conduct unbecoming a member of Fianna Fail".

The Irish government has asked the Irish police to look at the findings of a report into corruption in the Republic's planning process.

In its report, the Tribunal rejected the former Taoiseach's evidence about the sources of money in his bank accounts.

In a statement on Thursday, the former taoiseach said he had never done "anything to demean any office" he had held.

"After spending over a decade of inquiries and countless millions of euros, the tribunal has not made - nor could it make - a finding to support the scurrilous and untrue allegation allegation that I had been given a corrupt payment by Mr Owen O'Callaghan," said Mr Ahern's statement, given to RTE.

"I hid nothing. I gave the tribunal unfettered access to all my financial records, and after years of investigation, this tribunal has not made any finding of corruption against me.

"I have told the truth to this tribunal, and I reject strongly any suggestion that I sought to mislead it."

Fianna Fail party officers held an emergency meeting on Thursday evening to discuss the findings.

Party leader Micheal Martin said the national executive would meet on 30 March to discuss the report and to ensure "swift and decisive action" was taken.

"Although the central allegation against Bertie Ahern was not sustained, the evidence confirmed by the tribunal and its comments relating to him are extremely serious," he said.

"The report records that Bertie Ahern gave a significant amount of evidence to the tribunal which, in the opinion of the tribunal, was untrue.

"It is a matter of profound personal and professional regret to see confirmed in this report the extent to which Bertie Ahern fell short of the standard of personal behaviour which is expected of the holders of high office."

Speaking on Friday, Mr Martin said Mr Ahern's achievements in Northern Ireland were "real and enduring - but they cannot absolve Bertie Ahern from facing the implications of the Mahon report".

A motion to expel Mr Ahern from Fianna Fail will be raised at the meeting.

The party said it would also seek to expel former minister Padraig Flynn who the tribunal found had "wrongly and corruptly" sought a donation from a developer.

Dail debate

The tribunal, which ran for 15 years, gathered evidence from more than 600 witnesses and the final report runs to 3,270 pages.

It made several findings of corruption against a number of witnesses.

An Irish government spokesperson said: "The Government will refer the report to the Garda Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Revenue Commissioners and to the Standards in Public Office Commission.

"A three-day Dail debate on the report will take place next week.

"The Government will consider the findings and recommendations next Tuesday."

The tribunal found that Mr Ahern failed to truthfully account for a total of 165,214.25 Irish punts passing through accounts connected with him.

It also found that in relation to the B/T account, known as the Bertie/Tim account by bank staff in the Permanent TSB, Mr Ahern and his associate, Tim Collins, failed to truthfully account for 50,000 Irish punts lodged into this account between 1992 and 1994.

In the introduction to the report, the judges say a number of senior cabinet ministers made sustained and virulent attacks on the integrity of the tribunal members.

They say there is "little doubt" the objectives of these extraordinary and unprecedented attacks on the tribunal were to undermine the efficient conduct of the tribunal, erode its independence and collapse the inquiry.

Mr Martin said Fianna Fail would not seek to "hide from the consequences of the Mahon report".

"I understand the anger and disappointment that many people will feel when reading the Tribunal's report," he said.

"I share it. I want to reassure them that my party is fully committed to showing that there is no tolerance for the activities detailed in the Mahon report."

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