The controversy surrounding Bertie Ahern is simple. An allegation was made that he received a large amount of money from a property developer. The allegation is connected to alleged planning corruption in county Dublin.
The Mahon Tribunal is investigating these allegations and as a result called in Ahern to give his side of the story in private. If Ahern had given a reasonable explanation for the large amounts of cash he had received at the time there would have been no problem.
No more questions would have been asked, no further investigation and no details of Ahern’s private life would have become public.
Ahern’s explanations were not acceptable to the tribunal and this resulted in him appearing in public session to explain his finances
Polls have indicated that a majority of Irish people do not believe Ahern’s explanations either. They are fantastic, contradictory and details often change depending on what questions are being asked.
Everything else surrounding the scandal, his exploitation of his family to elicit sympathy, his ruthless and systematic attack on the tribunal, his constant attack on the media, his angry charge that the matter is none of our business, all this bluster, all this hot air is peripheral to the core of the matter – Ahern cannot give a believable explanation for the source of large amounts of accepted cash.
The suspicion is that Ahern did accept money from property developers and others and is now desperately trying to cover up. The more he ‘explains’ the deeper the hole gets.
He was on This Week today attempting to explain the tax difficulties that have arisen in connection with his various ‘dig outs’ and ‘gifts’.
Essentially, he is claiming that the large amounts of money that he accepted when he was Minister for Finance and for which he is unable to provide a credible explanation and for which there are still outstanding tax implications, should be a private and confidential matter between himself and Revenue.
My understanding of his tax problems is: He received large amounts of cash in the early 1990s on which there are outstanding tax implications. If this is the case then he has been in breach of tax regulations for all his time as Taoiseach.
He stated on This Week that he was tax compliant for the 2002 election. It’s difficult to see how this claim could be true if his problems originated in the early 1990s.
Perhaps it’s time for a formal complaint to the Standards in Public Office Commission.