Ahern back before Mahon for two more days in the witness box


THE FORMER taoiseach Bertie Ahern returns to the witness box at the Mahon tribunal today, and is scheduled to give evidence over two days.

Mr Ahern, who resigned in May, last appeared before the tribunal in June when he said sterling cash worth IR£23,450 lodged to his and his daughters' building society accounts in 1994 and 1996 had come from backing horses in the UK, and saving sterling cash for a deposit on a Manchester property which, in the event, he never purchased.

He told the tribunal he had forgotten about this sterling during his more than two years of private dealings with the tribunal but had remembered it after the tribunal found documents earlier this year showing the sterling lodgements to the accounts.

He said the sterling cash was kept in the safes where he also kept up to £54,000 in Irish currency which he did tell the tribunal about during the private phase of its inquiries.

Mr Ahern's early resignation coincided with the ongoing controversy caused by the tribunal's inquiries into his personal finances. The inquiries were prompted by statements made to the tribunal by Tom Gilmartin in the course of the inquiry into the Quarryvale, now Liffey Valley, development in Dublin.

Mr Gilmartin said that he had been told by developer Owen O'Callaghan that he had made payments to Mr Ahern. Mr Ahern and Mr O'Callaghan have said that no such payments were made.

Mr Ahern's appearance in June was considered to be his last in relation to his personal finances. He is expected to be questioned about any dealings he had with Mr O'Callaghan or with matters linked to the Quarryvale development. However, it is possible that the tribunal may have some new or residual matters concerning his finances that it wants to ask him about.

Mr Gilmartin was originally Mr O'Callaghan's partner in the Quarryvale project but the men parted company along the way and the project was completed by Mr O'Callaghan.

Mr Gilmartin told the tribunal that corrupt payments had been made to Dublin councillors to advance the project. Lobbyist Frank Dunlop has told the tribunal he made corrupt payments to councillors in order to further the project but denied Mr O'Callaghan knew of the payments.