Ahern repays €90,000 to donors


Donors' money: Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has issued cheques totalling more than €90,000 at the weekend to the 12 individuals who gave him nearly £40,000 some 13 years ago.

Most of the donors have already decided to give the money to the charity Cari, which provides counselling and support to victims of child abuse.

The repayments by Mr Ahern, made on Friday and Saturday, include interest on top of the original amount given by the donors to Mr Ahern in two tranches in 1993 and 1994.

Mr Ahern said last week that he had seen the money as a loan, had always intended repaying it with interest, and that the individuals had refused to accept repayment when he attempted to do so after becoming Taoiseach.

On Thursday in Cavan Mr Ahern indicated to journalists that he would be repaying the money as soon as possible.

He said one of the mistakes he had made was not to insist on repaying the money when he handed information over to the tribunal some years ago. He was advised against it because of how this might appear.

Advisers to Mr Ahern spent Wednesday and Thursday estimating the amount of interest liable on the loans in order to calculate the amount now due to the 12, most of whom gave Mr Ahern £2,500.

The interest paid to the donors by Mr Ahern is some 6.7 per cent per annum, meaning that most have received cheques of just over €5,000.

The repayments include a cheque for more than €10,000 which was sent to Padraic O'Connor, former managing director of NCB Stockbrokers.

On Saturday The Irish Times reported that the original £5,000 cheque given to Mr Ahern was drawn on a NCB company account.

Yesterday publican Charlie Chawke confirmed he had been paid back the money by Mr Ahern, but said he had donated the money to Cari.

He said he had been in contact with some of his fellow donors, and they had agreed to do the same. He said so far €60,000 of the repayments had been pledged to Cari.

The Taoiseach's estranged wife Miriam is a strong supporter of the charity, and organises one of its main fundraising events each year.

In his conditional statement in support of Mr Ahern last Wednesday, PD leader Michael McDowell said the Taoiseach should repay the money with interest.