FORMER TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern has defended his evidence to the Mahon Tribunal and said he was “hurt and disappointed” by the Tribunal findings, which he rejects as “inaccurate and unsubstantiated”.
The Tribunal report said Ahern had not truthfully accounted for over IR£65,000 in lodgments to bank accounts associated with him. The report’s publication on Thursday prompted FF leader Micheál Martin to propose the expulsion of Ahern, Pádraig Flynn and other FF politicians identified in the Tribunal.
The expulsions are due to be put before the party’s national executive on Friday.
Ahern has now confirmed that he will resign from the Fianna Fáil party, saying he doesn’t want the motion to expel him to become “divisive” for the party.
In a piece published by the Sunday Independent, Ahern says that the resignation “is not an admission of wrongdoing in regard to the report of the Mahon Tribunal,” adding that “nobody should try to interpret it in that way”.
He described his decision as a political one, saying that he believes the party has “more pressing issues to contend with than whether or not I am a member of a local cumann in Drumcondra”.
Ahern also repeated his earlier assertions that he told the truth to the Tribunal and had “received no improper payment”. He also criticised the Tribunal for rejecting his evidence and the evidence of those he said had corroborated his statements.
“I have done nothing wrong,” he added.
“I have to be true to myself,” the former Taoiseach writes. “It would be far easier for me to say nothing and try to forget about this nightmare. But I can’t allow this blemish on my character to go unanswered.”
On Friday, Martin said that a “root and branch” review of the Dublin central constituency would be carried out and that the local organisation’s assets would be transferred to the national group.
Yesterday former councillor Joe Burke, one of the members of the trust which holds the deeds to St Luke’s in Drumcondra, where Ahern still uses an office, said that he would not block efforts to transfer control of the property to the national FF organisation.
However, Burke criticised the media and Micheál Martin for pursing Bertie Ahern.
In a statement responding to the Mahon report on Thursday, Ahern said he would “continue to examine ways in which to vindicate” his name.