Davy's made £5,000 donation in 1992

 

Stockbrokers:The tribunal is investigating whether Bertie Ahern received personal or political donations from stockbrokers other than Pádraic O'Connor of NCB Stockbrokers, it emerged yesterday. Paul Cullenreports.

Initial inquiries by Mr Ahern have established that Davy Stockbrokers made a £5,000 political contribution to his constituency operation during the general election in 1992, but this was before Mr O'Connor made his donation in December 1993.

The tribunal is also investigating a £5,000 cheque lodgement Mr Ahern made to an account in the Irish Permanent Building Society in January 1994, which has been the subject of correspondence between the Taoiseach's accountant, Des Peelo, and the Revenue Commissioners, the inquiry heard.

Mr Ahern said a £5,000 cheque he received from Mr O'Connor was a personal donation that formed part of a goodwill loan from friends, but Mr O'Connor has told the tribunal the money was a political contribution from his firm to Mr Ahern's constituency operation.

In his evidence, Mr O'Connor told tribunal lawyers one of the factors which persuaded him to give the money was a belief that other stockbroking firms were being asked to contribute.

Des O'Neill SC, for the tribunal, said that if Mr O'Connor's account was correct, other people may well have been requested to make similar £5,000 donations. Mr Ahern said nobody that he knew of had gone around such a "complicated method" of making a payment to his funds as Mr O'Connor.

Mr O'Neill said the payment had gone through "inexplicable convolutions" but whether it was a personal payment or a political one, the same considerations applied. According to Mr Ahern, Davy made an unsolicited contribution of £5,000 on a Davy's cheque into the "house account" which was used to fund his election campaign in 1992. He didn't look after this account.

Mr O'Neill said Mr Ahern opened an Irish Permanent account in January 1994. The first item lodged was £2,500, which derived from a £5,000 cheque, half of which had been cashed. He asked the source of this cheque.

Mr Ahern said he couldn't recollect without checking. Mr Ahern's lawyer said he didn't appear to have the documents relevant to this line of questioning.

The tribunal's examination of Mr Ahern will resume next year, although he isn't available in January.