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Check out this video of Fianna Fáil minister Ray Burke 'baring his soul' to the Dáil in 1997

Four months after Fianna Fáil’s return to power, the new minister is embroiled in controversy.

Source: Unofficial Irish Video Archive/YouTube

IT’S SEPTEMBER 1997 and Minister for Foreign Affairs Ray Burke is embroiled in controversy over allegations that he received tens of thousands of pounds in donations in return for planning favours in the 1980s.

It’s just four months since he has been appointed to the prestigious ministerial portfolio after Fianna Fáil’s return to power under Bertie Ahern when Burke is forced to make a personal statement to the Dáil.

He opens by saying he has come to the chamber to “reassure the public and particularly my constituents that I have done nothing wrong” before stating he received an unsolicited political contribution of IRL£30,000 in cash in two sealed envelopes in 1989.

There was nothing “illegal, unethical or improper” in the transaction, Burke told the Dáil as the opposition looked distinctly unimpressed.

“Did the minister not have any sense of something remotely odd about two gentlemen arriving with £30,000 in cash?” asked Labour leader Dick Spring.

On foot of the claims the Ahern government would establish a tribunal into certain planning matters, later known as the Mahon Tribunal, which issued its damning final report 14 years later in March 2012.

Burke went to jail for five months in 2005 after pleading guilty to making false tax returns.

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