FIANNA FÁIL leader Micheál Martin has said he will be consulting the officers of his party this evening about Bertie Ahern’s continued membership of the party following the publication of the Mahon Tribunal’s final report this morning.
The Tribunal report says that payments of IR£165,000 had not been “truthfully accounted for” by the former Taoiseach, but did not make any findings of corruption against Ahern.
The report also claims that the Tribunal came under sustained and virulent attack from a number of senior ministers who questioned the integrity of the sitting judges and “inter alia the legality of its inquiries”.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Six One News this evening, Martin said that he accepts the Tribunal’s findings and that these would be discussed this evening by the Fianna Fáil officers at a meeting tonight.
Martin said that while he personally ‘regrets’ that Bertie Ahern was apparently not in a position to furnish details of the origins of payments to him which were outlined in the Tribunal, certain procedures would have to be followed in the party with regard to his membership and Martin could not confirm that Ahern could face expulsion.
“Action will have to follow,” he said, adding there are procedures to be followed and said it’s “only fair” that party officers have an opportunity to review the 3,000+ page report.
When asked what he thought of Mahon’s criticism of ministers, Martin said: “The difficulty for me in this is that the Tribunal doesn’t name any names.”
He added that he felt that those politicians who were identified in the report as having engaged in corruption “betrayed the trust that the Irish people put in them” and described their behaviour as “absolutely disgraceful and unacceptable”.
In his address to the recent Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, Martin pledged “swift and comprehensive” action on the Mahon report. He said that party members had felt “let down by people carrying Fianna Fáil’s banner who failed to live up to the standards of integrity which our founder set”.
He said this evening that the party would issue a detailed response to the report shortly and that it would soon give an indication of its reaction to the Ahern elements.
A comment issued on behalf of Bertie Ahern earlier today said that he would issue a statement after reviewing the Tribunal’s findings.