PDs to stay but 'duty of accountability falls on the Taoiseach'

Tainiste Michael McDowell ensured this morning that payments received by Bertie Ahern and his former partner, Celia Larkin, in the 1990s will remain an issue for Bertie Ahern to clarify ahead of polling day on 24 May. Speaking at a press conference in Dublin this morning, McDowell said that information that he recieved from Ahern last November to explain the payments was 'at best selective' and that 'democratic accountability demands a comprehensive statement' from Ahern.  McDowell said that he "received additional information from a number of sources, which suggest that a picture given by various parties to the tribunal differed markedly from that given by the Taoiseach last Autumn".

Details of an additional payment in 1994 to Ahern's then partner, Celia Larkin, emerged a week ago ìn a story published by the Mail on Sunday. Details of this particular payment were not publically disclosed last November when Ahern was purportedly revealing all in relation to monies he received in the early 1990s. Throughout the first week of the election campaign, Ahern deflected questions from journalists about the additional payment, saying that the details would be investigated in full by the Mahon Tribunal.  
Tainiste Michael McDowell also said today that the Progressive Democrats would not withdraw from government with Fianna Fail ahead of polling day. He said that following consultation with party members, th overwhelming consensus was that there would be 'no useful purpose' in entrusting such important ministries as Health and Justice to junior ministers who are unfamiliar with the issues.
In an interview given soon after McDowell's statement, Bertie Ahern denied having lied to Minister McDowell last November. He said that he is not a crook and that new information had presented itself in relation to the payments in the last six months. Contrary to previous statements, Ahern today intimated that he would indeed make a statement about the payments before polling day. 
Asked was he pleased that the PDs would remain in government, Ahern replied: 'this government is in its dying days anyway'.
Fianna Fail are due to hold a press conference later today.