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File photo of Ahern and Burke. Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland

Former councillor defends Ahern on Mahon, criticises 'media agenda'

“You can’t spend your money without being criticised for it,” Joe Burke told Marian Finucane.

FORMER DUBLIN CITY councillor and member of the so-called ‘Drumcondra mafia’ Joe Burke has accused Micheál Martin of ‘playing to the press’ and bowing to media pressure in proposing to expel Bertie Ahern from Fianna Fáil.

In a pre-recorded interview aired on RTÉ’s Marian Finucane show this morning, Burke also complained about the focus on Fianna Fáil and party donations.

At one point, the businessman and former Dublin Port chairman complained that “you can’t spend your money without being criticised for it”.

Burke dismissed the Tribunal’s criticism of Ahern and pointed out that it made no finding of corruption against the former Taoiseach.

When pressed over the complaints Mahon made of Ahern’s failure to truthfully account for lodgments of over IR£165,000 to accounts connected with him, Burke responded that if he was up in court for murder “and there is no evidence, do I get a life sentence?”

He suggested the media was serving its own agenda in pursing Fianna Fáil and publishing negative reports about the party and its members, asking Marian Finucane at one point if she could recall the last time she saw a “good article” about the party or Ahern.

He also accused Micheál Martin of bowing to media pressure in proposing to expel Ahern from the party and described the proposal as “a hasty decision”.

Burke responded to Martin’s plans for a review of the Dublin Central constituency by saying that St Luke’s in Drumcondra was “bought in trust by donors to the organisation”.

Martin said yesterday morning that all of the local organisation’s assets are being transferred to the national party and that a “root and branch review” of the constituency will be carried out.

Ahern still uses St Luke’s as an office.

“[St Luke's] was put in trust and it’s still held in trust,” Burke said this morning, adding that if the party wants to take the deeds then “there’s a whole process they have to go through and I don’t know if they’ve started that or not.”

Burke said he would not block an attempt for FF to transfer the property over to the general organisation and pointed out that the beneficiaries of the trust could be changed.

Bertie Ahern: I hid nothing…I have told the truth >

Good Friday Agreement ‘cannot absolve’ Ahern: Martin >

Call for EU Commission to drop Pádraig Flynn’s pension >

Read’s Mahon coverage in full >

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