LONDON, UK – Bertie Ahern, the former prime minister of Ireland, is to resign from Fianna Fáil, the political party he led to three successive general election victories, in the wake of a corruption inquiry.
In an article today in Ireland’s Sunday Independent newspaper, Ahern said his decision to leave the party was a “political” move rather than an admission that he had lied about his past finances.
The former Dublin politician was on the verge of being thrown out of Fianna Fáil after a tribunal investigating corruption in Ireland’s planning process found that money from party supporters had been deposited in his bank account, The Guardian reports.
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The Mahon tribunal, which ran for 15 years, concluded that Ahern had failed to "truthfully account" for sums amounting to 165,214.25 Irish punts passing through accounts connected to him, but did not make a corruption finding against the former PM.
In the Sunday Independent article Ahern wrote that news of a motion to expel him from Fianna Fáil had “deeply saddened” him, adding that a “grave injustice” had been done, according to the BBC:
“After spending over a decade of inquiries and countless millions of euros, the tribunal has not made – nor could it make – a finding to support the scurrilous and untrue allegation that I had been given a corrupt payment by Mr Owen O’Callaghan,” he said.
“I have told the truth to this tribunal, and I reject strongly any suggestion that I sought to mislead it.”
Ahern said he was retiring from Fianna Fáil to ensure he did not become “source of political division in the party,” according to The Irish Times.
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On Friday Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he intended to seek Ahern’s expulsion from the party for “conduct unbecoming,” and had called a meeting of the party’s national executive for the end of next week, The Irish Independent reports.
Ahern says donations from wealth party supporters that ended up in his account were “dig-outs” from friends to help him pay legal costs following the break-up of his marriage.
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