Michael Nugent over at That’s Ireland wrote an excellent piece that gets right to the heart of what Bertiegate is all about. Here’s what he had to say:
At this stage, it doesn’t really matter what findings the Tribunal eventually makes about Bertie Ahern taking bribes from Owen O’Callaghan. Because, even on the basis of Ahern’s own evidence, which is the best spin that he and his supporters can put on things, Bertie Ahern is unfit for public office.
Imagine if Owen O’Callaghan never existed, and the Tribunal had never been established, and yet we somehow became aware of the following behaviour by our Prime Minister. Here’s the situation if Ahern is telling the truth:
• Our Prime Minister took money from businessmen, and put it towards buying a house for himself. He did not pay tax on at least some of this money, which he has described as ‘a political donation for personal use.’
• Our Prime Minister lodged several times his salary into various bank accounts, in his own name, his girlfriend’s name, and his friend Tim Collins name, and he has given varying and unbelievable explanations for these lodgements.
• Our Prime Minister accepted money from friends and businessmen who he appointed to state boards. He said that he appointed them not because they gave him money, but because they were his friends.
• Our Prime Minister was aware for over a decade that political party funds in his constituency had been given to his girlfriend for her to buy a house. This money was not repaid until the Tribunal found out about it.
• Our Prime Minister told our national parliament that he had consulted the tax authorities about certain personal financial transactions of his, when this was not true. He later claimed that ‘the tax authorities’ means his personal tax advisers.
I could go on, but there is more than enough there. Even if he had never met Owen O’Callaghan, Bertie Ahern is unfit for public office. And that is on the basis of Ahern’s own evidence about his personal finances.
Bertie Ahern has corrupted the offices of Finance Minister and Taoiseach, and Fianna Fail, the Green Party and the PDs are corrupting Irish politics by allowing Ahern to stay in office.
PS: Just discovered that Michael Nugent co-wrote the play I Keano with Arthur Mathews and Paul Woodfull. I saw the play recently in Cork Opera House – Absolutely brilliant.