Trustees to discuss future of St Luke's

Mon, Mar 26, 2012, 01:00

CONSTITUENCY:THE BENEFICIARIES of a trust that holds the constituency office of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin could “change at any time”, one of its trustees has said.

Joe Burke, former Fianna Fáil councillor and staunch supporter of Mr Ahern, said he would discuss the future of St Luke’s in Drumcondra with its two other trustees, Tim Collins and Des Richardson.

“It was always the intention it was held for Fianna Fáil nationally; that hasn’t changed as far as I am aware, but it doesn’t mean the trust can’t change. The beneficiary of any trust can change at any time . . . at the behest of the trustees,” he said.

On Friday party leader Micheál Martin announced his intention to restructure the Dublin Central constituency branch and to transfer the branch’s assets, including the headquarters at St Luke’s, to the party’s general secretary.

The ownership and financing of St Luke’s had been included in inquiries carried out by the Mahon tribunal.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Marion Finucane Show, Mr Burke said he was not saying the change to the trust should or might be considered, but was just saying “what could happen”. Asked if he would “resist” Mr Martin’s plan, he said the final decision did not rest with him alone.

“I will basically wait until Fianna Fáil headquarters make any decision to actually take control of it, then we will sit down with other members of the trust and see where we are going,” he said.

Mr Burke, who told the Mahon tribunal he’d contributed to a “dig-out”, also said he did not understand why the tribunal did not believe him.

He reiterated that he had given Mr Ahern IR£3,500 in cash in 1994 and said he didn’t think it was odd that he was carrying cash.

“I was in business and we always had cash for different opportunities and different things,” he said.

“The reason I had £5,000 cash, I was going out to spend some money at that particular time and I had taken £1,500 out of that to buy a present for my wife,” he said. He complained that the papers had remarked on the size of the gift.

“You can’t spend your own money without being criticised for it,” he said.

Mr Burke, who now lives abroad, also pointed out that the Mahon tribunal had not found Mr Ahern was corrupt. He said he was very supportive of Mr Ahern who was “and still is” a “personal friend”, though he hadn’t spoken to him “for a while now”.