On Friday, 23 February last the chairman of the Planning Tribunal, Judge Alan Mahon, explained why the Tribunal was enquiring into Bertie Ahern's financial records.
Bertie Ahern faces political disgrace, a fate he doesn't deserve given his achievements on the economy and on Northern Ireland. But his explanations for the huge lodgements to his bank accounts are now not credible. And the discovery of building society accounts suggest not just that he got large sums of money from unknown sources but also that monies were diverted from the Fianna Fail coffers.
By Vincent Browne
Bertie's banker, Philip Murphy, gave evidence to the Planning Tribunal in November. The evidence revealed even more curious aspects to the Taoiseach's financial affairs, including evidence that Bertie Ahern handed over to his banker IR£72,500 in cash from December 1993 to August 1994
By Vincent Browne
Frank Dunlop's evidence has been the cornerstone of the Planning Tribunal's proceedings now for several years but it is now evident that he has continued to lie to the Tribunal long after is infamous “confession” to the former chairman, Feargus Flood and his recent story of having bought part of a racehorse in 1992 for £20,000 is clearly literally incredible. Given that his credibility is not close to rock-bottom, the issue arises, what plausibility can the Tribunal attribute to any of his allegations about councillors being bribed?
The Moriarty Tribunal has cost €30 million to date but that is before costs are awarded to witnesses who appeared before the tribunal. The final bill is likely to be around €50m. The Planning Tribunal's final costs are likely to be well in excess of €100m. And almost every single cent of this goes to lawyers.
The finances crisis from Bertie Ahern now threatens to destroy his career, even though this is not yet publicly appreciated. For evidence is emerging that he got far more money when he was Minister for Finance than so far has been disclosed unravels Bertie Ahern's yarn-spinning. By Vincent Browne
The acknowledgement that private interviews were recorded is potentially terminal for the tribunal . In his judgement on 27 April last on an application by Hazel Lawlor, widow of Liam Lawlor, for a “stay” on the present hearings of the Mahon Tribunal , a judge of the High Court, Iarfhlaith O'Neill, noted: “The Court was told that apart from a tape-recording made by Mr Noel Smith, solicitor, of an interview with a client of his (Tom Gilmartin) and which was furnished to the Tribunal , no other electronic recording was made or kept by the tribunal ”.
In a series of phone conversations with the former Minister for the Environment, Padraigh Flynn in in1998, Tom Gilmartin (according to Padraigh Flynn, apparently authenticated by contemporaneous notes made by the latter of these conversations) made certain admissions about a crucial change in his evidence. He had previously stated that the £50,000 he had given to Padraigh Flynn in the autumn of 1989 was for Mr Flynn's own purposes. He subsequently changed his evidence, claiming that the money was intended for Fianna Fail.
One of the concerns there are about the off-the-record discussions during private interviews arises from what is known about the on-the-record discussions. The following is part of one of the transcripts arising from one of the interviews between two barristers then representing the tribunal, Pat Hanratty SC and John Gallagher SC, and Frank Dunlop, who was accompanied by his own counsel, Senan Allen.
Village has submitted the following questions to the Planning Tribunal. At the time of going to print no response was forthcoming. In the event that the tribunal does respond to the questions we will publish the response in full in the next issue of Village.