'I am a resilient person . . . but I am deeply wounded by this'

Mon, Mar 26, 2012, 01:00

OPINION:TO MY dying day, I will not accept the findings of the Mahon tribunal report.

I know that these findings in relation to me are wrong and inaccurate.

I am incredulous that the tribunal can make such findings when I know I have not done anything dishonest.

I have been in close contact with my legal team and I am looking at all options as to how I can, and I will, vindicate my good name.

I know that some people might be of the view that I should just accept these findings and try to move on with my life.

Such advice might be well-intentioned, but it would be very hard to allow this blemish to remain on my character.

I never took a corrupt payment from anyone and I told the truth to the Mahon tribunal about

my finances and the difficult personal circumstances I found myself in.

The Mahon tribunal is not a court of law.

And it is not infallible.

Over the course of the tribunal, I had to take High Court challenges to some of the things it tried to do which were unlawful.

I did this reluctantly and as a last resort and I won all of those cases.

I was also among a large group of citizens who had been victims of a serious breach of constitutional justice when it emerged that the tribunal tried to prevent the disclosure of Mr Gilmartin’s lengthy catalogue of prior inconsistent statements.

While this is a matter for the tribunal, I am saddened that there has never been an explanation or even an expression of regret for those breaches and the costs and delays that flowed from the breaches. I believe the tribunal’s final report should have addressed this matter.

The tribunal has cost millions of euro and in making its final report it carried with it an enormous weight of public expectation.

Given the fact that I served as taoiseach for almost 10 years, I can understand how an impression might have been created that a trawl of my finances and lifestyle should be at the heart of the inquiry. This, of course, is not the case.

I was not involved in the zoning of Quarryvale and I never received a penny from Owen O’Callaghan.

I did not accept a bribe in regard to Quarryvale or anywhere else. And I did not take corrupt payments.

The tribunal does not make a finding of corruption against me.

Nor could it, because I never received an improper payment in my life.

My finances were chaotic, but they are most certainly not corrupt.

I am sorry if that has caused any confusion or worry in people’s minds.

As I have previously said, all of these issues arose in a period when my family, personal and professional situations were rapidly changing and I made the best decisions I could in the circumstances in which I found myself.

I was in the process of bringing my marital separation to a conclusion; I was occupying a busy ministerial office with the enormous workload and punishing schedules that went with it; I was a busy TD in a large and demanding constituency; and I was a senior officer and later leader of this State’s largest political party, at a time when that party was working to rebuild itself. Through all of this I was the father of two young children; in a new relationship; and maintaining long-standing friendships.

The unorthodox nature of my financial affairs has allowed the tribunal to cast doubt on the veracity of the evidence I gave them.

I was honest with the tribunal and I gave it truthful evidence and I wholeheartedly reject any suggestion that I did otherwise.

I am saddened to resign from Fianna Fáil.

It is a real emotional wrench.

The party has been an integral part of my life for 40 years.

I always worked hard and did my level best for Fianna Fáil and for the wider public.

I have the greatest of respect for the membership of the Fianna Fáil party right across the country.

I spent many years working to unite the Fianna Fáil party after years of factions.

I have tendered my resignation because I do not want a debate about me to become a source of division in Fianna Fáil.

I am a resilient person and in public life you learn to take knocks, but I am deeply wounded by this tribunal report.

The Irish people are kind and compassionate. I deeply appreciate the gesture of all those who have contacted me wishing me well and remembering me in their thoughts and prayers.