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‘I feel betrayed’: Political figures respond to Mahon Tribunal findings

As the major parties digest the implications of the Mahon report, here’s what their members (and others) have been saying on the side…

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

IRELAND’S MAJOR POLITICAL parties are officiallystill digesting the revelations contained in yesterday’s Mahon Tribunal final report.

The Government has issued a brief statement saying that it will refer the findings of the report to a number of authorities, including the gardaí. Three days next week will be devoted to Dáil debate of the Tribunal.

Meanwhile, Bertie Ahern – the focus of much attention surrounding the report – has said only that he will issue a statement “in due course”.

However, a number of political figures and other players have been responded in the media and on Twitter.

From the Oireachtas

Doorstepped after the release yesterday morning, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was reluctant to comment beyond the official line. But he appeared to criticise Bertie Ahern, saying the report set out “in very direct fashion” its verdict on the ex-Fianna Fáil leader and referring to:

A litany of unacceptable statements from the former Taoiseach.

Asked whether he was surprised by the findings, Kenny said: “Yes, I am.”

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson Dara Calleary said he felt “betrayed” by the Tribunal findings. Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Pat Kenny, he spoke of his “annoyance” and said:

I feel really betrayed. The public trust has been betrayed. I’m incredibly, incredibly disappointed this morning.

While Calleary’s Sinn Féin counterpart Jonathan O’Brien has argued that the investigation does not end here. He said:

Deputy Mícheál Martin was a senior member of the cabinet then and is Fianna Fáil party leader now.  He has a number of questions to answer regarding the conduct and credibility of his party colleagues who are still members of the Dáil.

Labour Senator Susan O’Keeffe argued that the report – all 3,270 pages of it – still doesn’t bring us to the truth of corruption in politics:

Meanwhile, her former parliamentary party colleague Patrick Nulty TD – who lost the Labour whip after voting against the Budget – said the report was “a damning and shocking indictment” of the behaviour of public representatives.

Not all Labour representatives’ contributions were so serious, though – take this from Senator John Whelan:

Like many of us, Fine Gael’s Simon Harris was daunted by the sheer size of the thing…

... but he can't have been THAT daunted, because just four hours after the report's appearance he published an op-ed in the Irish Independent.

In it Harris criticises the entire tribunal model, saying: "It does seem incredible that after a lengthy, costly and extensive Tribunal we [...] are told that evidence [of corruption] is "inconclusive".

Independent TD Catherine Murphy observes that the report isn't all about the big names - it has implications for our whole political process:

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Senator John Crown, meanwhile, appeared to suggest further consequences:

Other figures

Owen O'Callaghan, the property developer whose activities were central to the investigation, issued a statement rejecting the findings. He described the report as "biased, unfair and unjust."

Former An Taisce chairman Michael Smith appeared on Liveline to give his views. Along with barrister Colm Mac Eochaidh, Smith got the ball rolling on the inquiry when he offered a IR£10,000 reward for information on planning corruption.

Smith criticised the report as "fairly cautious", adding: "It doesn't make many findings of corruption, it's more inclined to use words like 'impropriety'." He said:

It doesn't represent a realistic assessment of why the planning process has been problematic.

An Taisce itself has called for an independent planning regulator in the wake of the report, saying in a statement that such a body would need to be "free from political influence and has the power to undertake independent inquiries into the planning functions of local authorities."

Finally, Independent Dublin councillor Gerard Mannix Flynn appeared unimpressed with the report. He tweeted:

More: Full coverage of the Mahon Tribunal findings and fallout on TheJournal.ie>

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Michael Freeman

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