Fianna Fáil selling Ahern’s former power base for €595,000

Detached three-bed redbrick in Drumcondra, Dublin 9, was Bertie’s constituency HQ

 

It is an unassuming, detached redbrick on Lower Drumcondra Road in Dublin 9, but was once the most controversial property in Ireland.

St Luke’s, the political power base of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, has been put on the market by Fianna Fáil with an asking price of €595,000.

It served as the constituency headquarters from which Mr Ahern orchestrated most of his political career, and to which he clung on after his retirement from the Dáil. The building and the cost of operating it were a major element of the investigations of the Mahon Tribunal in 2008, which ultimately drove Mr Ahern from government.

St Luke’s was bought in 1988 for £56,000 by a group of Mr Ahern’s associates shortly after he had separated from his wife.

Under the arrangement the group established a trust administered by some of Mr Ahern’s closest followers including Des Richardson, Joe Burke and Tim Collins, who came to be known as the Drumcondra Mafia.

For the next 20 years political decisions were made there – as well as across the road in Fagan’s pub. It was during this time that Celia Larkin worked at St Luke’s as Mr Ahern’s constituency secretary, and their long-term relationship began.

Visitors to the three-bed property – now for sale through Darren Chambers of Lisney – included former US president Bill Clinton and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

Unlike Charlie Haughey’s Abbeville, St Luke’s is a modest property of less than 2,000 sq ft. It included an apartment, which had a sittingroom, bedroom and kitchen. Mr Ahern lived there for five years until he rented a house in nearby Beresford Avenue.

The ground floor was given over to constituency offices, meeting rooms and a bar for social occasions.

Mr Ahern told the Mahon Tribunal he stored cash in St Luke’s when he didn’t have a bank account, including £30,000 sterling given to him in 1994 by Manchester businessman Micheál Wall. This money was never traced.

The trust finally signed the building over to Fianna Fáil in late 2012. However, perhaps because of its association with one of the darkest episodes in the party’s history, there was little appetite among constituency members to take up its use.