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HELLO AND WELCOME to our liveblog on the day the Mahon Tribunal publishes its final report. We’re going through the 3270 page report and bringing you the various findings of it throughout the day as well as reaction and analysis.

The main points:

If you’re reading the report and spot something particularly interesting get in touch in the comments below, email: hugh@thejournal.ie, or tweet us @thejournal_ie

Hello and welcome to our liveblog for the day, the Mahon Tribunal final report has been published. It is 3270 pages and we are delving into right now.

Report states that one chapter – relating to one module of its public inquiries – has been withheld for legal reasons. This is due to ongoing cases that are due before the High Court related to corruption charges. It will be published as soon as possible, the report says.

I can report only that the report is out and that it is huge and quite problematic to download from the Mahon website which itself is slowing and possibly crashing under the weight of people trying to access it. We’re currently in the process of getting the report onto our own servers and hope to host it ourselves in a few minutes.

The report’s publication may have caught a few people off guard considering there were widespread reports it would come out at 10.30am. As we reported last night, we were expecting it out at 10am. But in the end it has come in just before 10am.

Here is the Mahon Tribunal introduction.

Page 2481 of the report states that much of the explanation provided by Bertie Ahern as to the source of the substantial funds identified and inquired into during the Tribunal’s public hearings was deemed by the Tribunal to have been untrue.

The Tribunal rejected evidence of Ahern, Des Richardson, Charlie Chawke, Michael Collins, David McKenna and Jim Nugent about their involvement in December 1993 fundraiser – £22,500 – for Ahern, the then finance minuster.

The Tribunal found that Ahern failed to truthfully account for a total of £165,214 that passed through accounts connected to him.

Quite significantly we have learned so far that the tribunal has quite categorically rejected Bertie Ahern’s evidence that he received so-called dig outs from friends during the 90s. He failed to truthfully account for over €165,000 that passed through his accounts. This may be stating the obvious but that is not good news for the former Taoiseach.

The Tribunal rejected evidence that there had been a collection organised by Des Richardson and Gerry Brennan from friends of Ahern, or that £22,500 was provided to the former taoiseach in the manner claimed. Tribunal is satisfied that he did not get any sum as a gift or a loan as he claimed.

The tribunal REJECTS Ahern’s evidence that he accumulated approx IRL£54,000 in cash savings between 1987-1993.

However it did accept that it was his usual practice to cash his salary and expenses cheques rather than use a bank account. That is to say that the tribunal accepted that the then Minister for Finance did not have a bank account.

The Tribunal was “not provided with a truthful account as to the source of the said lodgement of IR£22,500 to Mr Ahern’s bank account on 30 December 1993”. The Tribunal was unable to determine original source of his money.

The Tribunal also rejected evidence as to source of IRL£20,000 cash lodgement on 8 August 1994.

It was satisfied that – contrary to what Ahern said – a siginficant portion, if not all, of that cash came into his possession between 25 April and 8 August 1994 but the Tribunal was unable to determine source of those funds.

Regarding a IR£24,838.49 lodgement on October 11 1994: Ahern said this was IR£16,500 and approx stg£8,000, given following a fundraising dinner in Manchester.

The tribunal rejected this. Tribunal satisfied that the entire lodgement was funded by one STG£25,000 donation. The tribunal was unable to account for source of this.

Okay, so what we know so far in relation to Bertie Ahern is that the tribunal has rejected a large portion of his evidence but there has been no finding of corruption against the former Taoiseach.

Regarding a IR£28,772.90 lodgement, Ahern told the tribunal that this was STG£30,000 provided by Michael Wall for use in connection with 44 Beresford Ave, Drumcondra, and that it was passed onto Ahern’s then partner Celia Larkin for lodgement.

Tribunal rejected this evidence of Ahern and Wall that Wall had paid STG£30k to Ahern for this or indeed any other purpose. Instead the tribunal found that this sum £28,772.90 from US$45,000.

But the tribunal could not account for the source because Ahern failed to account for the currency.

My colleague Gavan Reilly is going through the findings in relation to Bertie Ahern. There will be a story on the website shortly but in the mean time we’ll bring you the findings as he goes through them here in the liveblog.

Regarding a IR£11,743.74 lodgement to an account in the name of Celia Larkin in June 1995, this lodgement comprised of IR£9743.74 (an exchange of STG£10,000 cash) and IR£2,000.

Ahern told the tribunal that the STG£10,000 cash represented part of a purchase of STG£30,000, which in turn was funded by some of the IR£50k withdrawn by Larkin the previous December.

Tribunal rejects the evidence that Ahern bought STG£30,000 and therefore cannot account for source of STG£10,000 in this lodgement. It also rejects Ahern’s account for IRL£19,142 lodged to the former Taoiseach’s account on 1/12/95, which Ahern said was the remaining STG£20,000.

Bottom line is that this is another example of the tribunal rejecting evidence given by Ahern.

More tribunal rejections of Ahern evidence: The tribunal rejected Ahern’s assertion that he couldn’t remember lodging Irish punt equivalent of STG£15,500 to his account and those of his daughters, Cecilia and Georgina.

It rejected his explanation of the source of the STG£15,500, which was that Ahern would cash cheques, occasionally send that cash to the UK, covert it to sterling, then bring the sterling back to Dublin and keep the sterling cash in a safe.

It also rejected evidence that he had saved sterling towards purchase of a property in Manchester. Again in this instance, the tribunal could not account for the source of the money.

The tribunal rejected the evidence from Ahern, Tim Collins and Joe Burke that the so-called B/T Account was opened for the purposes of the upkeep of Ahern’s constituency stronghold St Luke’s. The tribunal found that the account was for purposes other than than that which was claimed by the trio.

Tribunal said it was satisfied that withdrawal of IR£20,000 from this account in August 1994 was “unconnected with any intended repair or refurbishment of St Luke’s” and the true purpose of withdrawal remains unexplained. The source of a STG£20,000 lodgement into that account also remains unexplained.

Tribunal believed Ahern and Collins were in a position to accurately account for the origins of the lodgement of IRL£19,000 (1992) and IRL£10,000 (1995) but did not do so. The tribunal believes the account was operated – at least until 1997 – for the personal benefit of Ahern and Collins.

My colleagues Christina Finn and Christine Bohan are across Leaders’ Questions and other proceedings in the Dáil where Mahon has not got much of an airing so far.

Although, I am told that Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said he hopes there’ll be arrangements for a “comprehensive” debate on Mahon in the Dáil during the course of next week.

In relation to Ahern’s house at 44 Beresford Avenue: The tribunal rejected any evidence of Ahern and British businessman Michael Wall which indicated anything other than property being legally owned by Bertie from 1997 onward.

Satisfied that Will executed in June 1996, which gave the house to Ahern and “was a mechanism designed to provide Mr Ahern with a degree of asset protection in respect of the property”.

Tribunal satisfied that the will was “evidence of Mr Ahern’s beneficial ownership” and that Ahern was aware of its existence from the date of execution, which goes against his evidence to the Tribunal.

In other words, the house at Beresford Avenue was never beneficially owned or intended to be beneficially owned by Michael Wall, as Ahern had claimed.

We interrupt details from the final report to bring you this quick joke courtesy of Alan Farrell…

Back to findings in the report.

In relation to the evidence given by journalist Eamon Dunphy, the tribunal said it was satisfied that Dunphy gave evidence honestly, in belief it was true and accurate and rejects any suggestion that it was embellished.

The Tribunal also said it was satisfied that developer Owen O’Callaghan made verbal statements to Dunphy implying that Ahern was “taken care of” and given inducement in return for a favour.

It was satisfied O’Callaghan gave such payments to politicians and that O’Callaghan found it necesary to engage in corruption in order to succsesfully develop property in Dublin.

This corroborated developer Tom Gilmartin’s allegations that O’Callaghan had paid money to Ahern in return for favours associated with Quarryvale project – now Liffey Valley.

The Tribunal was satisfied from consideration of the evidence given by Gilmartin and Dunphy that O’Callaghan had personally implied the use of corrupt payments, including to Ahern.

The tribunal accepted Gilmartin’s evidence that O’Callaghan personally told him about payments of IR£30,000 and IR£50,000 to Ahern but it acknowledged that this was not offered as proof in itself.

The tribunal found that IRL£30,000 was paid to Ahern to assure that the Blanchardstown development would not receive tax designation status. O’Callaghan was advised by Ahern, then the Minister for Finance, in March 1994 that neither Blanchardstown or Quarryvale (now Liffey Valley) would receive tax designation.

But importantly the  tribunal cannot establish if this is actually true, only that it was the belief of Gilmartin that this was the case.

Gilmartin’s evidence about the payment of IRL£50,000 was “considerably less specific” but the Tribunal is still satisfied that Gilmartin was provided with information which would lead him to understand that O’Callaghan had given Ahern IRL£50,000.

That more or less concludes the section about Bertie Ahern which my colleague Gavan Reilly has whizzed through. He’ll have a story on the website shortly and bring you anything else significant we find in relation to Ahern. Don’t forget if you spot anything yourself, send us an email or a comment with the page number and we’ll take a look at it.

Sinn Féin are first out of the blocks with their reaction to the publication of the Mahon report or at least they look like they will be when justice spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien speaks to the press on the plinth of Leinster House at midday.

My colleague Michael Freeman has just published this story in relation to payments to councillors, which Mahon, most damningly found were an “abuse of the democratic system”.

A property development group spent thousands of Irish punts between 1991 and 1996 to secure support for the rezoning of lands at Cherrywood in south Dublin, where it planned a major development. Large numbers of councillors, some not yet identified, received payments.

Five councillors named as having received corrupt payments were Fianna Fáil’s Tony Fox, Colm McGrath, Don Lydon and GV Wright, and Fine Gael’s Tom Hand.

Former broadcaster and government advisor Frank Dunlop was paid €85,000 by a property development country between 1993 and 1995 as a way of “rewarding him for his efforts in promoting the Cherrywood project” as well as giving him additional funds “for disbursement to councillors”.

More on that here with good news for broadcaster Bill O’Herlihy (“live”) and current Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett.

Good luck to Simon Harris, the oh-so-young Fine Gael TD, who will be trying to digest Mahon later. Its 3,270 pages and we’ve got over half-a-dozen people trying to do the same…

Sinn Féin has just released a statement from justice spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien in which he says:

Despite the findings of this tribunal and claims from the political parties involved in planning corruption, that they regret the activities of some of their members at the time, we see the current Taoiseach in the company of one of those named by the Moriarty Tribunal while representing this state at St Patrick’s Day events in the United States of America.

We also saw a warm welcome for former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at the recent Fianna Fáil ard fheis. Both these very recent incidents beg the question: what has really changed, especially as many of those in leadership now, were around the cabinet table at that time?

To justify the massive resources invested in this tribunal, Justice Mahon’s recommendations must be implemented promptly and in full.

Gavan Reilly’s report on the treatment of Bertie Ahern is now published. He writes:

The report is scathing in its treatment of the former Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader, rejecting much of the evidence he provided in connection to a substantial number of lodgements made in the 1990s.

Fianna Fáil statement just in, a spokesperson has described it as “holding statement” but significantly Micheál Martin wants the Mahon report forward to the DPP:

Fianna Fáil has this morning received a copy of the Mahon Tribunal Report, which is currently being reviewed in detail.  We welcome its publication and are currently studying the report and its findings and we will be making a considered response.

Party Leader Micheál Martin TD has convened a meeting of the Party’s Officer Board for later today to consider the Report. Tonight, following that meeting, Deputy Martin will issue a detailed statement and tomorrow morning will hold a press conference to respond publicly.

Deputy Martin has written to the Clerk of the Dáil to ask that the Report be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration.  The Party has also tabled a Special Notice Question in the Dáil this morning, the details of which are included below.

Commenter Donal McCarthy writes: “The word corrupt (or derivatives of corrupt) appears in the report 977 times”.

Elsewhere, our editor Susan Daly has summarised the recommendations of the Mahon tribunal’s final report.

Here’s an interesting snippet that Susan Ryan has uncovered, the FBI, that is the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States, was called into to analyse the redacted diaries of former government advisor Frank Dunlop.

Dunlop’s credibility was called into question by the tribunal throughout his time as a “problematic witness”.

The FBI “successfully and conclusively identified information which Mr Dunlop had sought to conceal in a significant number of these diary entries, although both failed to yield definite results in relation to others,” the tribunal states.

Here’s some good news for Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte. Then councillor Rabbitte from the Democratic Left Party was found by the tribunal to have returned a IRL£2,000 from Frank Dunlop given to him during the 1992 general election.

“This decision was both commendable and correct,” the tribunal has stated.

Michael Freeman has been look at the tribunal’s findings in relation to former minister and EU commissioner Pádraig Flynn – he of Late Late Show fame.

Flynn took a payment of IRL£50,000 from Tom Gilmartin in 1989 which was intended as a donation to the Fianna Fáil party but on the understanding that obstacles to the Quarryvale development would be removed.

However, the tribunal found that Flynn then used money for his own benefit and that some of it went to buy a farm in his wife’s name in Co Mayo.

#Mahon, Bertie Ahern and Padraig Flynn are all currently trending on Twitter in Ireland.

More from Michael Freeman in relation to Padraig ‘Pee’ Flynn: Bertie Ahern knew from Tom Gilmartin in 1989 that he had paid IRL£50,000 to Flynn. Taoiseach Albert Reynolds was also told in 1992 when he was in office.

Then Fianna Fáil financial controller Sean Fleming was told by fundraiser Paul Kavanagh to examine accounts to find record of donation from Gilmartin. No such record of such a donation was found.

Nobody in Fianna Fáil asked Flynn about Gilmartin’s payment at any time before 1998/1999, when Ahern contacted him. This was despite several senior personnel knowing about the payment, the tribunal found.

Worth noting that the Sean Fleming referred to in the previous entry is the same Sean Fleming who is currently the party’s social protection spokesperson.

This is Bertie Ahern’s house this morning:

And here’s a lot of photographers outside his house:

I wonder why? Oh. Thanks to Laura Hutton from Photocall Ireland.

A nugget from Christine Bohan: In 2007/2008 at a time when this Tribunal was inquiring into matters relating to Bertie Ahern, the then Taoiseach, it came under sustained and virulent attack from a number of senior Government ministers.

The ministers questioned, “inter alia the legality of its inquiries” as well as the integrity of the sitting judges.

Our resident mathlete Gavan Reilly informs us that the Mahon tribunal’s final report would have to be spaced across a total of 41 of those old floppy disks.

In its recommendations section, the Mahon tribunal says the following about corruption:

Corruption, and in particular political corruption, is a deeply corrosive and destructive force. While frequently perceived as a victimless crime, in reality its victims are too many to be identified individually.

Political corruption diverts public resources to the benefit of the few and at the expense of the many. It undermines social equality and perpetuates unfairness. Corruption in public office is a fundamental breach of public trust and inherently incompatible with the democratic nature of the State.

It’s important to note that Bertie Ahern was not found to be corrupt by the tribunal in its final report. However, as Michael Freeman writes, a number of councillors were found corrupt as was former minister and EU commissioner Padraig Flynn.

Christina Finn was keeping an eye on Leaders’ Questions this morning and she has written this story on what Eamon Gilmore had to say. Principally the Tánaiste said that if the Mahon report has findings of corruption, it should be “pursued vigorously by the authorities”.

From the Photocall Ireland archive, Eamonn Farrell’s picture of a sign outside the Mahon tribunal during the period when Bertie Ahern was giving evidence:

You can probably clap now.

Statement from a spokesperson for Bertie Ahern:

Mr Bertie Ahern is reviewing the final report of the Mahon Tribunal and will issue a statement in due course.  In the meantime there is no comment.

Turning to former Fianna Fáil TD Liam Lawlor, who died in 2005, the tribunal found that he “conducted a personal business in the course of which he corruptly sold his expertise, knowledge and influence as a councillor and as a TD for personal financial reward”.

Evidence of corruption was found against Liam Lawlor, Padraig Flynn and other former councillors.

The Irish Planning Institute has just issued a statement in which it says:

The Irish Planning Institute has noted the conclusions of the Mahon Report on irregularities in the planning process and is satisfied that at no stage in the process of the tribunal inquiry, has the integrity of professional planners been questioned.

The statement goes on to say that the report did demonstrate the need “for a tightening of procedures for the zoning of development land”.

As mentioned earlier, our editor Susan Daly has been looking at the recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal, these include that a breach of ethics by an Oireachtas member “should be a criminal offence and is consequently making a recommendation to this effect”. This could theoretically mean an increase in the role of the Standards in Public Office Commission.

Looking at our Twitter list of TDs tweeting, there’s not many of them tweeting about #Mahon beyond what we have already mentioned. Our guess is that they have the highlighters out and are going through the report as we speak.

A Leinster House source tells me that printed copies of the report, all 3000+ pages of it, were circulating around the Oireachtas less than an hour after the report was published online. They must have great printers.

Former Fianna Fáil minister Pádraig ‘Pee’ Flynn took a €50,000 payment which the tribunal found to be corrupt. Micheal Freeman has the full story.

Gavan Reilly is working on a story in relation to what the tribunal said about former Fianna Fáil TD and councillor Liam Lawlor. In the meantime we know that the tribunal found that the relationship between the now deceased Lawlor and the property developer Owen O’Callaghan was “firmly based in corruption”.

Veteran journalist Sam Smyth is on the News at One on RTÉ Radio. He has said that the findings are “really shocking” for Bertie Ahern. He said that he did not expect the judges would say that could not “believe a word that he said”.

Liam Lawlor was “hopelessly compromised” by payments from developers the Mahon Tribunal has found. Gavan Reilly has been looking at what the final report said about the deceased former TD.

Political correspondent David Davin-Power speculates on RTÉ News that it seems “inevitable” that Bertie Ahern will now be expelled from the Fianna Fáil party in light of today’s findings.

Meanwhile, Labour TD Aodhán Ó Riordáin has tweeted the following:

As Bryan Dobson has just been pointing out on the One O’Clock news on RTÉ, the tribunal effectively rejected much of the evidence from Bertie Ahern except for the fact that he did not have a bank account at the time of many of the controversial payments.

The Tribunal believed that the then Minister for Finance did not have a bank account.

The government has realised a statement to say that the report from the Mahon Tribunal is being referred to the Garda Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Revenue Commissioners, and the Standards in Public Office Commission.

A three-day Dáil debate is to take place next week.

Fianna Fáil’s environment spokesperson Niall Collins is on the News at One and says that Micheál Martin will hold a press conference tomorrow, as we already know.

Collins is not being drawn on the content of the report much, instead wishing to point out that a “detailed response” is to come tomorrow. He says he is “concerned” by some of the content he has managed to get through so far.

On the News at One, Collins has denied a contention by presenter Sean O’Rourke that Fianna Fáil has an “existential crisis” on its hands in light of the tribunal’s findings.

O’Rouke puts it to Collins that the party may have to “fold the tent” (Galway Races anyone?) in light of the findings. Collins says only that the party will deal with the findings “comprehensively and conclusively” in the coming days.

The fact that the party is led by Micheál Martin, who served in government during the entirety of Ahern’s tenure as Taoiseach, will “all be dealt with”, Collins said.

“I just cannot get into it with you Seán,” Collins concludes saying he is just not in a position to give a response on behalf of the party. And that is that.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan on the News at One confirming details of a Dáil debate on the Mahon tribunal next week. Here are the full details of that.

Hogan has said that the report finds that long after the era of Charles Haughey corruption “was rampant” in Fianna Fáil. He points out the the report uses the word lies in relation to Ahern a number of times, but is quickly corrected by Seán O’Rourke on this as it does not.

He does go on to say that a lot of assertions made in the tribunal by Ahern are deemed in the final report to have been “untruthful”. He goes on to say that he wants to “put a line in the sand” in relation to planning and corruption and the recommendations of the final report.

Speaking of those recommendations which Susan Daly has been looking at. The final report states that to ensure transparency in lobbying, the Tribunal has recommended that lobbyists sign up to a register. They would have to declare who they are lobbying on behalf of, on what issues – and who they are lobbying to.

Labour TD Derek Nolan is, as far as I can see, the first backbencher to issue a statement in relation to Mahon. He says the report “must be sent to the Gardaí”. I believe the government has already confirmed this is happening.

Here’s more from Nolan, a TD for Galway West:

As a new Deputy recently elected to Dail Eireann, I am heartened to see new legislation to reform the way political parties are funded. However, you cannot legislate for a lack of a moral compass that has been core to the political elite in Fianna Fail over the last decades. There must be consequences for those people following the findings of this report.

Developer Owen O’Callaghan has made a statement which RTÉ’s Paschal Sheehy has been going through on the News at One.

On the tribunal’s finding that he paid a total of IRL£1.8m to former government advisor Frank Dunlop in full knowledge they would be used for corrupt payments, he completely rejects this.

Sheehey said that O’Callaghan rejects in the “strongest terms the findings of the tribunal”. He intends to seek a judicial review and describes the findings of Mahon as “biased, unfair and unjust”, according to the RTÉ correspondent.

David Davin-Power is again on the News at One and has restated his view, based on briefings from a senior Fianna Fáil figure, that the party is likely to expel Bertie Ahern in light of the findings of the Mahon Tribunal today.

There’s been a bit of international coverage of the findings of the Mahon tribunal, not surprising given the affairs of a former Prime Minister of the country are at issue.

The Guardian’s Henry McDonald writes: “It did not call Ahern corrupt, but made a damning indictment of his 15 days of evidence before the judges.”

BBC News also notes the fact that no finding of corruption was made against Ahern and perhaps underscores the seriousness of it all in its intro: “The Irish government has asked the Irish police to look at the findings of a report into corruption in the Republic’s planning process.”

“Bertie Ahern ‘failed to tell truth’ to corruption tribunal,” the headline on ITN reads.

While an AP story which appears on the Canadian news site CTV is headlined: “Ex-Irish PM Bertie Ahern took secret payments, judges say.” A similar headline appears on the Herald Sun website in Australia.

Susan Ryan has been deliving through what the report said in relation to the former government advisor and Fianna Fáil press secretary Frank Dunlop.  He was among other things a “problematic witness” whose credibility was seriously questioned throughout.

The Tribunal says that Dunlop had a simple and successful strategy from late 1990/early 1991 in which the financial reqards for landlowners and developers “were enormous by any standards” – and substantial for Dunlop. In most instances, it says, payments to councillors were “relatively modest” at IR£1,000 or IR£2,000 and that he rarely ever explained the pros or cons of a development project.

Michael Smith, the former chairman of An Taisce, who along with barrister Colm Mac Eochaidh made the initial offer of a IRL£10,000 reward for information that would lead to convictions for planning corruption, has just been speaking to Liveline on RTÉ Radio One:

“It’s not a bad report, but it’s fairly cautious, it doesn’t make many findings of corruption, it’s more inclined to use words like impropriety,” he said.

He added that:”It doesn’t represent a realistic assessment of why the planning process has been problematic.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been doorstepped by the media this afternoon saying that the Mahon report “clearly sets out corrupt practices”.

Here’s what else he said (including a bit where he forgets the fourth agency to which the report has been referred):

YouTube: MerrionStreetNews

More on those recommendations from Susan Daly who has published the entire summary of what the recommendations from the Mahon tribunal’s final report are. The report states that if any Tribunal of Inquiry is ever set up again (“God help us,” says you) it should have three extra powers:
  1. to require a person to attend the Tribunal for private interview
  2. to order the discovery of documents without prior notice
  3. to seize documents

Slightly strange statement from former Labour TD Patrick Nulty who says: “I spent the morning reading the Mahon report, which arrived in my post this morning.”

The post? I rang Patrick Nulty to ask him about this and he said that all TDs and senators were provided with a CD-Rom of the Mahon report this morning via their Leinster House pigeon holes. Interesting. He could not recall what time he picked it up so we’re not sure if the report was issued to Oireachtas members before it went online just before 10am.

Michael Freeman has been listening back to Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Dara Calleary who was on Today with Pat Kenny earlier. He said: “It’s a very serious report Pat.”

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

Back to Patrick Nulty, whose constituency of Dublin West was particularly affected by the events detailed in the Mahon tribunal. He told me that the findings of the report were “absolutely shocking and outrageous”. His statement added:

Minister Leo Varadkar should comment on the fact that a sitting councillor for the Swords area which he represents has been found to have behaved in an “entirely inappropriate” fashion by the report.

Minister Varadkar has been quite happy up to now to have Cllr. Devitt appear on political literature with him. I am calling on Minister Varadkar, who is never short of comment, to now clarify his position and state whether Cllr. Devitt still enjoys his confidence.

RTÉ News tweeted this a short time ago:

Like Leinster House, they must have some impressive printers down in Montrose….

Apologies, we’ve been quiet for a little while. Normal service will be resumed shortly and we’ve lots more coverage of Mahon on the way.

Sinn Féin’s justice spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien has issued a statement to say that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has a number of questions to answer in relation to the findings of the tribunal. The questions O’Brien is asking include:

  • Does Mícheál Martin share any responsibility, as a senior cabinet member at that time, for these actions?
  • As a member of that cabinet, can he clarify if these attacks were part of an orchestrated campaign at the behest of Bertie Ahern?
  • Does he know which of his former ministerial colleagues are being referred to by Justice Mahon in the report?
  • Are any of these currently serving Fianna Fáil TDs?
  • If they are serving TDs, what action is he going to take against them now?

Martin’s fellow Cork TD, O’Brien, adds:

If Mícheál Martin is serious about restoring faith in the political system and leaving the Fianna Fáil culture of corruption behind, then he must answer these questions as a matter of urgency or the public will draw its own conclusions.

Gavan Reilly has been pouring over more findings in relation to Bertie Ahern. The former Taoiseach dismissed a proposal for the government to offer backing to a new ‘National Stadium’ five years before he backed the 65,000-seater ‘Bertie Bowl’, a project which never came to fruition as we know:

O’Callaghan had approached then-Taoiseach Albert Reynolds in 1994 inquiring if the government wished to part-fund a stadium for which he had been granted planning permission at Neilstown in Clondalkin, west Dublin.

Reynolds is purported to have told the developer – whose name appears frequently across the reports, as one of the main developers connected with payments to politicians – that the government could back the plan, but that it would need the approval of the Minister for Finance.

That minister was Bertie Ahern, who held a meeting with O’Callaghan and an American investor who was prepared to put up some of the cash for the IR£60 million stadium, which was never ultimately built.

O’Callaghan’s testimony insists that this meeting lasted “approximately 10 minutes”, however, before Ahern “abruptly told us that the Government would not support this stadium financially and that he did not envisage a stadium being built as [sic] Neilstown.”

The full story is here.

Associated Press has some comments from Ahern’s former special adviser in government, Gerry Howlin, who described the findings as “far worse than anything I expected or believed possible.”

He told me he was telling the truth. His narrative is not believed, and it is damning and it is serious. … His reputation has been very seriously damaged.

While Howlin appears to accept the tribunal’s findings, Ahern’s longtime accountant and former friend Des Peelo appeared more sympathetic in quotes also appearing on the AP news wire:

The fact that something is bizarre does not make it untrue. Some aspects of his finances were bizarre.

The Mahon tribunal has mentioned the current Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin eight times according to a poster on Politics.ie.

Some more great pictures from Photocall Ireland. Here’s  the CD-Rom of the report, just as well as there will not be an official print edition of the Mahon Tribunal (unless you’re prepared to abuse  your printer) for another two weeks, Newstalk reported this morning (H/T Christina Finn):

And here’s someone reading over the report this morning on their computer. My colleagues and I know how that feels #tiredeyes:

The BBC’s Ireland correspondent Mark Simpson has written a fantastic analysis of Bertie Ahern’s fall from grace for the BBC website. “The cheers have turned to jeers,” he writes:

Looking at the wave of condemnation now aimed at him from all sides of the political spectrum it is hard to believe he was once labelled the “Teflon Taoiseach”.

Criticism did not use to stick to him. Not any more.

During the boom times of the Celtic Tiger economy it seemed he could do no wrong. He was lauded at home and abroad.

Fast forward five years, and that economy is in tatters, and so is Bertie Ahern’s political career.

Read more of that here.

Dara Calleary on Today FM says that the party will be taking action on the final report as published today. The Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson said that it wasn’t possible for the party to take a position on Ahern, Lawlor, Flynn and others until such time as the work of the tribunal finished despite all that has come out over the past 15 years.

Over on RTÉ’s Drivetime, the businessman Charlie Chawke, who is implicated in the payments to Bertie Ahern, has said he has not seen the former Taoiseach since his birthday bash in Croke Park last year: “It was a good night,” he says. On Judge Mahon and his findings:

He’s wrong, he’s definitely wrong. I’m an honourable, decent man… I’m honest – or fairly honest.

Jennifer Wade has combed the final report from the Mahon Tribunal to ascertain which councillors were found to be corrupt and which were not in relation to the Quarryvale development.

The report commends some public representatives for refusing or returning payments coming from those with vested interests – while condemning the positions of others as “hopelessly compromised” due to their associations with developers or lobbyists.

In total, 30 Dublin councillors were investigated by the tribunal and here are the details in full of what the report said about each of them.

A statement from Niall Collins, Fianna Fáil’s environment spokesperson, who says that the report makes for “depressing reading for anyone who cares about public service”.

He also called for Environment Minister Phil Hogan to reopen inquiries into planning decisions by Dublin and Cork city councils and county councils in Carlow, Meath, Galway and Cork.

Considering that Collins was saying little earlier in relation to the final report (see 13.14) he certainly seems to have found his voice on this issue this evening. Here’s his statement in full:

The Report of the Mahon Tribunal is depressing reading for anyone who cares about public service and paints a bleak picture of the planning process throughout this country. It is essential for the process of rebuilding trust with people that there be no question mark over the modern planning process.

This was one of the reasons why the last Government asked for a review of planning decisions by Dublin and Cork city councils, as well as county councils in Carlow, Meath, Galway and Cork.

Some limited progress was made, with public advertisements leading to the appointment of a panel of planning experts from which a team was to be appointed for the review.

However, within just a few months of taking up office Minister Hogan cancelled the investigations without explanation.  I am calling on the Minister to reconsider this decision in light of the very serious findings of the Mahon Report.  Where there are questions over the planning process in any part of this country, those questions must be answered.

Thanks to all those who made comments today. Some lively ones in there and a few good tips in relation to the report itself.

I have just come across this on Twitter from the excellent Gavin Sheridan of TheStory.ie and Storyful. It’s a chronology of Bertie Ahern’s resignation from October 2004 – when he was put on notice that the Tribunal would be making an order for discovery – to April 2008 when Ahern announced his resignation as Taoiseach while continuing to maintain that he had “nothing to do” with what happened at Mahon.

RTÉ’s Six One News says that former minister and EU commissioner Pádraig Flynn will not be making any comment on the contents of the Mahon tribunal final report today. It found that Flynn took a corrupt payment of IRL£50,000 from property developer Tom Gilmartin for his own benefit.

Much has been made of Flynn’s now infamous appearance on The Late Late Show in 1999 in which he said that he “never asked or took money from anybody to do favours for anybody in my life”:

YouTube: AssassinorErrandBoy

Government chief whip Paul Kehoe is “saddened” by the behaviour of senior politicians outlined in the Mahon report. “Saddened” is not a word I have heard much if at all today in relation to Mahon.

It’s hard to understand why they acted in such a way when they were in what many consider a position of privilege. As a public representative I think it is sad that they have found Bertie Ahern made untruthful statements to the Tribunal while leader of this country.

The statement can be read in full here.

Barrister Colm Mac Eochaidh, who along with former An Taisce chair Michael Smith, offered an initial IRL£10,000 reward for information related to corruption in the planning process has told RTÉ that he is “underwhelmed” by the final report, specifically the recommendations in relation to planning regulations.

It was Mac Eochaidh and Smith’s initial offer of a public reward that would eventually lead to the establishment of the tribunal.

“He needs now, to tell us where he got that money,” Mac Eochaidh says in relation to the payments to Bertie Ahern. ”I’ve a feeling he never will,” he adds.

Micheál Martin is on RTÉ’s Six One News right now and admits the findings are “very serious”. He says that he accepts the findings and “regrets” that Ahern was unable to see it in the way that the Tribunal found.

Martin is not going to be drawn on if or when Ahern might be expelled from the party. “I am not going to pre-empt the officer board meeting this evening”. That meeting is taking place imminently.

Bryan Dobson is taking Martin to task over the various findings of corruption against various Fianna Fáil ministers, TDs and members. My colleague Susan Ryan is tapping away notes from the interview. Story to come shortly.

Broadly, Martin is playing it straight, he accepts the findings but is not being drawn on what the outcome will be for those implicated in the Mahon tribunal.

“The difficulty for me in this is that the tribunal doesn’t name any names,” he says in relation to ministers criticising the Mahon tribunal at the time of Ahern giving evidence and being the subject of numerous allegations during public hearings.

Just to go back to what Colm Mac Eochaidh was saying on Drivetime in relation to the costs of the tribunal which are estimated to hit as much as €300 million when all said and done. He acknowledges that while this is a lot of money:

€200 million is a small amount of money for something which is priceless.

Martina Fitzgerald on the Six One News says that reporters have been outside Bertie Ahern’s house since 7.30am this morning but no sign of the former Taoiseach. Anyone checked Fagan’s in Drumcondra? Only joking…

We’re not quite sure why former Transport Minister Noel Dempsey was in the vicinity of Leinster House with a purple wheelie suitcase today but Photocall Ireland says that he wasn’t answering any questions from the press:

He did have a chat with current Lord Mayor of Dublin Andrew Montague however:

Here’s that story from Micheál Martin’s interview on the Six One news a few minutes ago:

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.

Read Susan Ryan’s story in full here.

We expect that Fianna Fáil will issue a detailed statement later tonight following that much anticipated meeting. A press conference from Micheál Martin will follow tomorrow morning and there will be plenty more besides from the Mahon tribunal.

I am finishing up now for the night after just over nine hours liveblogging today’s pretty seismic developments in Irish political life. Thanks for your company and your comments. And for reading of course. Time for a pint of Bass…

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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